Historic Move, Canada to list BPA as Toxic
BPA, used to stiffen plastic bottles and line cans, belongs to a class of compounds sometimes called endocrine disruptors.
By Lesley Ciarula Taylor, The Toronto Star
Canada is in the process of a historic move, becoming the first nation to add bisphenol-A to its list of toxic substances, Environment Canada confirmed Wednesday.
The chemical used in making plastic has become increasingly controversial since Ottawa promised two years ago it would designate it a toxic substance. Its estrogen-like effects are suspected of creating havoc with hormone levels.
The government did ban the sale of polycarbonate plastic baby bottles that contain bisphenol-A in 2008. But any further action has been challenged fiercely by the chemical industry.
The American Chemistry Council demanded a review of the proposed toxic listing last year, saying otherwise Canada would have “pandered to emotional zealots.”
Declaring BPA toxic would not be “based on the best available data and scientific knowledge,” ACC executive director Steven Hentges said in a letter to Environment Canada.
Minister Jim Prentice rejected the council’s demands for a board of review.
“I am of the view that your notice does not bring forth any new scientific data or information,” he said in a response dated July 27 of this year
Once a notice is published in the Canada Gazette, Prentice told Hentges, there will be more opportunity to comment or object.
Last week, Statistics Canada disclosed that 91 per cent of people tested positive for BPA in their urine, with higher levels for children aged 6 to 11 than for adults over 40. The highest concentrations were in children. A day after this report, the federal government announced it will soon declare the chemical toxic.
The chemical can leach into food from tin-can linings, plastic food covers and water bottles. Used to harden plastic, it is found in hundreds of household items, including CD liners and, most recently, sales receipts.
Canada had been the first country in the world to declare that it intended to label BPA a toxic substance. Even now, the action would have international resonance.
In May, France followed Canada’s lead and approved a ban on manufacturing, importing, exporting and selling baby bottles made with BPA plastics. Several U.S. states have also forbidden the BPA-laced bottles, and U.S. federal agencies are reviewing the chemical’s overall safety.
Denmark has banned the use of BPA in any materials that come in contact with food and beverages. The Swedish government is reviewing such a ban.
Germany has rejected action against BPA after the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment said two studies found the chemical was not hazardous.
Canadian Government to designate bisphenol A as toxic by November
By Sarah Chmidt, Postmedia News.
After a lengthy delay, the federal government just said it is close to making good on its two-year old promise to designate bisphenol A as toxic under Canadian law.
The Conservatives made a big splash in April 2008 when two senior cabinet ministers hosted a news conference to announce Canada would become the first country in the world to ban plastic bottles after concluding the estrogen-mimicking chemical was toxic. The first step was to place BPA on the list of toxic substances under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
The ban went ahead, but the toxic designation has yet to happen. Environment Canada now says it will be a done deal within eight to 10 weeks, more than a year after considering a formal notice of objection filed by the American Chemistry Council.
The group, which maintains BPA is safe, filed the objection on July 15, 2009, asking the government to set up a board of review to reconsider the toxic designation.
Newly released correspondence to the council from Environment Minister Jim Prentice, dated July 27, 2010, says Ottawa has considered the request, but rejected it on the grounds that it “does not bring forth any new scientific data or information with respect to the nature and extent of the danger posed by bisphenol A.”
Environmental Defence executive director Rick Smith, who led the lobby campaign for the toxic designation, called the move “important progress. Kudos to the federal government for moving this file forward and shame on the industry for its endless stalling tactics. We look forward to seeing BPA legally designated as ‘toxic’ as soon as possible.”
Bisphenol A can leach into food from the protective epoxy resin coatings of canned foods or beverages and from such consumer products as polycarbonate tableware, plastic food storage containers and reusable hard plastic bottles.
Reproductive toxicity, including effects on fertility and development, has been identified as a key health effect of exposure to high concentrations of BPA, a recognized endocrine disrupter.
Since Ottawa’s ban on baby bottles containing BPA, several U.S. states have followed Canada’s lead. The U.S. government’s national toxicology program, meanwhile, concluded earlier this year that it has “some concern for effects on the brain, behaviour and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A.”