California Keeps BPA Off Toxics List | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: July 16, 2009

California Keeps BPA Off Toxics List

Independent panel finds lack of scientific evidence of harm to humans
Department: Government & Policy, Science & Technology
Keywords: bisphenol A, Proposition 65, BPA

A California science panel voted unanimously on July 15 not to add the controversial plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine disruptor, to Proposition 65—the state's list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer, birth defects, or reproductive harm.

The governor-appointed panel, made up of seven independent physicians, concluded that although there is some scientific evidence that BPA is harmful to laboratory animals, there is not enough evidence that BPA is harmful to humans to justify adding it to the list.

The decision was welcomed by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), an industry group that represents BPA manufacturers. The panel's conclusion "is consistent with the consensus view of regulatory bodies around the world on the safety of bisphenol A," Steven G. Hentges, executive director of ACC's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group, said in a statement.

But environmental and consumer advocacy groups say the action will do little to stop the momentum to ban BPA in baby bottles and food packaging that has been building for more than a year. "Manufacturers are rapidly developing safer alternatives to satisfy consumer demand for baby and beverage bottles, infant formula, and can linings free of this dangerous chemical," Bill Allayaud, director of government affairs for the Environmental Working Group in California, testified at the panel's meeting.

In response to this week's vote, the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a legal petition with the California Environmental Protection Agency, requesting that the agency reconsider the decision. The environmental group pointed out that the panel ignored a 2008 report from the National Toxicology Program, which concluded that current levels of exposure to BPA are of "some concern" for developmental and behavioral effects in fetuses, infants, and children.

Despite the ruling, legislation to ban BPA in baby bottles is pending in California, with a vote expected in the Assembly this fall. Other states, such as Connecticut and Minnesota have already passed such bans. At the national level, a bill that would ban BPA in food and beverage containers is working its way through the House of Representatives as part of a larger food safety bill, and the Food & Drug Administration has agreed to reevaluate the safety of BPA. A decision from FDA is expected in late summer or early fall.

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