EPA: Bisphenol A Is a 'Chemical Concern'
Environmental Protection Agency Will Examine Potential Environmental Impact of Plastics Chemical
WebMD News Archive
March 31, 2010 -- The Environmental Protection Agency will add the plastics
chemical bisphenol A (BPA) to its ''chemical concern'' list due to potential
BPA is found in a range of products, including plastic bottles, liners of
food cans, feeding cups, and some baby bottles (although several baby bottle
manufacturers have stopped using it).
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an action plan this week
that focuses on the environmental effects of the chemical.
The action by the EPA follows an FDA announcement in January about concerns
over BPA's potential impact on human health; the FDA said it will study the
potential effects along with measures to reduce exposure to BPA in food
Some experts are concerned that exposure to BPA and its weak estrogen-like
effects during critical periods of human development may be associated with a
wide range of health problems, including behavioral effects, reproductive
problems, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
''We share FDA's concern about the potential health impacts from BPA," says
Steve Owens, assistant administrator of the EPA's Office of Prevention,
Pesticides and Toxic Substances, in a news release. While food packaging is
regulated by the FDA, the new EPA action will look at the potential
environmental impacts of BPA.
Environmental groups praise the new EPA decision, but an expert at the
American Chemistry Council, an industry group, says BPA is not a risk to the
EPA's Action Plan on BPA
Each year, more than 1 million pounds of BPA are released into the
environment, according to the EPA. The action plan, in addition to adding BPA
to the chemical concern list, will:
- Require information on BPA concentration in ground water, drinking water,
and surface water to see if the levels are of potential concern.
- Require manufacturers to provide test data to assist the agency in
evaluating possible impacts, including long-term effect on growth,
reproduction, and development in aquatic organisms and wildlife.
- Use the agency's Design for the Environment program to find ways to reduce
unnecessary exposure -- such as assessing substitute materials -- while
additional studies continue. Beginning in April, the EPA will focus on thermal
and carbonless paper coatings, used in cash register receipts and elsewhere, to
see if alternatives to BPA may be readily available.
- Continue the EPA evaluation of the impact of BPA on children and other
populations through exposure for non-food packaging uses.
Reactions to the EPA's Action Plan
Environmental groups praised the new EPA announcement, while an industry
representative did not.
''We think it's laudable that the EPA is now in sync with other federal
agencies, sharing the same level of concern as other federal agencies for the
potential toxicity of bisphenol A," says Sarah Janssen, MD, PhD, MPH, staff
scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco.