EPA Moves Toward Bisphenol A Rule | Chemical & Engineering News
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Web Date: August 18, 2011

EPA Moves Toward Bisphenol A Rule

Regulations: Agency solicits comments on plan to require toxicity testing, environmental sampling
Department: ACS News
Keywords: BPA, EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking input on whether it should require the chemical industry to conduct toxicity tests and environmental monitoring for the plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA). The move is part of EPA’s action plan on BPA, first announced in March 2010, to address risks presented by the controversial estrogenic chemical (C&EN, April 5, 2010, page 8).

“A number of concerns have been raised about the potential human health and environmental effects of BPA,” says Stephen A. Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety & Pollution Prevention. “The data collected under the testing EPA is considering would help EPA better understand and address the potential environmental impacts of BPA.”

In particular, EPA is considering requiring chemical manufacturers to conduct toxicity testing to determine the potential of BPA to cause adverse health effects, including endocrine disruption, in environmental organisms. The agency is also considering having industry sample and monitor for BPA in the vicinity of chemical manufacturing plants and other places where it is expected to be released. EPA is not currently considering requiring additional toxicity testing for human health effects of BPA.

Although BPA has been shown to cause developmental and reproductive effects in laboratory animals, the chemical industry stands behind its safety, touting the fact that it has been used for more than 50 years. “The effects of BPA on the environment have been widely studied and it has been demonstrated that BPA is readily biodegradable—meaning it breaks down rapidly and does not linger in the environment—and does not bioaccumulate,” says Steven G. Hentges, executive director of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group at the American Chemistry Council, a chemical industry trade group. “Recent comprehensive assessments conducted in Europe and Japan concluded that BPA is not a risk to the environment as it is currently used.”

BPA is found in numerous consumer products including food can liners, polycarbonate plastic containers, epoxy paints and coatings, and cash register receipts. More than 1 million pounds of the chemical are released into the environment each year, according to EPA.

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