Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Does Canada's Declaration that BPA is Toxic Make Sense?

I noted last week that the Canadian government formally labeled Bisphenol A (BPA) as "toxic," and added it to Schedule I of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act of 1999. But does their action make any sense?  After all, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) had only days before stated their belief that BPA is safe for use in food-contact items.  The USEPA isn't basing any of its proposed actions on human health effects.  The USFDA seems to think BPA is okay to use.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC), which represents major chemical manufacturers and plastics chemical manufacturers (including BPA), notes that:
"...Environment Canada’s announcement is contrary to the weight of worldwide scientific evidence, unwarranted and will unnecessarily confuse and alarm the public."

According to ACC, Enviroment Canada's "decision also appears to contradict the very recent opinion of Health Canada, which stated in August that ‘the current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and infants.’"

Canada has issued a series of risk management action milestones that include such actions as prohibiting the importation of baby bottles containing BPA, reviewing all medical devices and notifications for substances used in the packaging of baby formulas, and facilitating the assessment of proposed industry alternatives to bisphenol A used in can linings.

While there seems to be quite a difference of opinion on the hazards of BPA, or lack of hazard, the primary concern of Canada is that "the neurodevelopmental and behavioural dataset in rodents, though highly uncertain, is suggestive of potential effects at doses at the same order of magnitude to 1-2 orders of magnitude higher than exposures."  So the potential for hazard is still contentious, but Canada feels that the the "potential sensitivity to the pregnant woman/fetus and infant," and the suggestion from rodent studies that there is "heightened susceptibility during stages of development in rodents."  As such they have determined that "it is considered appropriate to apply a precautionary approach when characterizing risk."

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