Canadian Plastics

Debate surrounding bisphenol-A rages on

A US panel that was looking into the impact of bisphenol-A (BPA) earlier this week could not reach a conclusion.

March 9, 2007   Canadian Plastics

A US panel that was looking into the impact of bisphenol-A (BPA) earlier this week could not reach a conclusion.

The panel of 15 scientific experts met in Alexandria, Va. as part of an initiative by the US federal Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR). The goal of the two-and-a-half day panel was to examine more than 500 studies on BPA in order to determine the toxicity of the substance for humans. The review panel hoped to reach interim conclusions about the health risks associated with BPA by Wednesday.

Representatives for the agency told other media outlets that the panel was a large undertaking, and the group will issue its conclusions on a later date.

BPA is a chemical that is often used in the production of polycarbonate plastics, epoxy resins and polyester resins.

Opponents have previously contended that the substance can leach into food products and is not safe for human consumption. Some scientific findings have indicated that BPA acts like estrogen. A study released last year by an Indiana University professor even suggested a possible link between the additive and breast cancer.

Conversely, plastic and chemical industry professionals have maintained that small amounts of exposure have no effect on human health and that BPA is safe for use in consumer products.

The American conference was not without controversy. The federal agency came under fire after the Los Angeles Times reported that Sciences International, a consulting firm contracted by the CERHR, had ties to chemical companies and PBA producers.

BPA has also come under review in Canada this year. The chemical is one of more than 200 “high priority substances listed under the federal government’s new Chemicals Management Plan. The plan is challenging industry professionals to provide more information on how they are managing these chemical substances.

The Chemicals Management Plan web page for BPA notes that the substance does not appear to have any major health or environmental effects because of the relatively low level of daily exposure. However, BPA was included in the plan because of “its possible role as an endocrine disruptor.”

BPA will be included in the Canadian Health Measures Survey, which will be administered by Statistics Canada. The survey will monitor the health of 5,000 randomly selected Canadians between 2007 and 2009.

Health Canada previously conducted tests on baby feeding bottles in 2001, and found that the levels of BPA were very low. The findings indicated that polycarbonate plastic products did not pose a health risk because a majority of the BPA was lost during manufacturing, and small amounts only leached into a beverage in extreme conditions.


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