Canada places BPA on toxic substances list
Canada has become the first country to ban the use of bisphenol A in products like baby bottles, and formally announced on 18 October 2008 that the chemical is a hazardous substance.
BPA is a chemical used in the manufacture of a wide range of plastic consumer goods ranging from beverage containers to dental sealants to car interiors. Scientists cannot yet agree on how much BPA exposure is safe for humans, but several studies have raised health concerns.
Ottawa published its decision to place the chemical on its toxic substances list in the Canada Gazette on 17 October 2008.
“The confirmation of our ban on BPA in baby bottles proves that our government did the right thing in taking action to protect the health and environment for all Canadians,” Environment Minister John Baird said in a statement on 17 October in advance of the decision’s publication.
The move comes six months after federal Health Minister Tony Clement announced that Canada would become the first country to label BPA a dangerous substance and ban the use of BPA in baby bottles.
Clement said at the time he would initiate a public consultation, which would include input from scientists. That public consultation helped formulate the final risk assessment, which was released on 18 October and is expected to open the way for more regulations to control the chemical.
The health minister can now move to ban the importation, sale and advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles containing BPA.
Clement has noted that the levels of bisphenol A that most Canadian adults are exposed to are not harmful. But Canadian and international environmentalists have said studies support the need for a complete ban on the use of BPA in consumer products.
Steven Hentges of the American Chemistry Council said his group supports Canada’s findings.
“We were pleased to see the Canadian government reaffirmed what they found earlier, that the current research tells us that the general public need not be concerned,” Hentges told CTV Newsnet from Arlington, Va.
“People are exposed to only low levels of bisphenol A and those levels don’t pose a significant health risk.”
However, a study by CTV News and the Globe and Mail released in May found that BPA leached out of cans that were heated to temperatures similar to those used during the sterilization process.
In another study of nearly 1,500 people, researchers in the United Kingdom discovered that subjects who were diagnosed with heart disease or diabetes had higher concentrations of BPA in their urine.
In recent months, research has also found that:
- BPA interferes with brain processes involved in learning and understanding.
- BPA causes infertility and obesity in mice.
- The chemical may reduce the effectiveness of chemotherapy treatments.
Bisphenol A is mainly used to make a clear plastic polycarbonate that can withstand high temperatures. It is also used for epoxy resins to line the insides of tin and aluminium cans so they prevent corrosion from the food and drinks they contain.
Some of the products which might contain bisphenol A include:
- hard clear plastic and some tinted water bottles
- hard clear plastic baby feeding bottles
- hard plastic baby toys
- food storage containers, plastic bowls and tableware
- cans of baked beans, soup, vegetables, fizzy drinks
- dental sealant to prevent cavities
- electronic equipment and CDs
- spray-on flame retardants
CANSA’s comment: A watershed moment in getting rid of toxic, man-made molecules from our environment which they entered without our permission and is a possible cause of breast cancer. Hopefully South Africa will follow this example.