Friday, November 26, 2010

EU Moves to Ban BPA from Baby Bottles

This week the European Commission's Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health moved to ban the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles beginning next spring.  BPA is an organic chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics like those in baby bottles and thousands of other plastic products.  It has come under attack as a possible endocrine disruptor, which "can mimic the body's own hormones and may lead to negative health effects."

That said, various government and regulatory bodies around the world have defined "safe levels" for humans, though new studies have raised new concerns about whether those levels truly are safe.  The problem is that effects are much more subtle and hard to define, and tests to measure (and then understand the significance of) potential endocrine disruption are still being developed.  Still, last year The Endocrine Society issued a position statement on endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Responses from the EU plastics industry and health advocacy groups was as one might expect.  Industry feels that the decision goes against the totality of the scientific evidenceHealth NGOs believe the EU action doesn't go far enough as it doesn't address other uses of BPA that also may lead to infant and child exposures.

In any case, the Commission's decision will lead to a Directive to prohibit the manufacture of BPA infant bottles by March 1, 2011 and prohibit the placing on the market and import of BPA infant bottles after June 1, 2011.  Member States have until February 15th to develop national level regulations to implement the Directive.

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