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Sarah Janssen’s Blog

California makes it official - BPA is a reproductive hazard.

Sarah Janssen

Posted April 12, 2013 in Health and the Environment

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California has officially placed BPA or Bisphenol A on the ‘Prop 65 list’ of chemicals recognized by the State to be reproductive hazards.  The listing does not ban the chemical but could result in warning labels in consumer products which contain it.  

It makes official what parents and other consumers have known for years, BPA is toxic and should be avoided!

This is a public health victory that has been a long time coming and after years of delay, California has moved quickly in just a few months to finalize this listing. The chemical industry, represented by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), has done everything they could to stop it from happening using their usual delay tactics.  

They requested extra time to file comments extending the comment period, and even recently sued to prevent the listing from happening. The lawsuit is still active but California EPA has moved forward despite it. We should all thank them for doing the right thing to protect public health and not bowing to industry pressure. Thank you, Cal EPA!

BPA has been linked to a wide range of health effects including reproductive harm, altered brain development, behavioral changes, cancer and cardiovascular disease.  New science continues to emerge a rapid pace and the vast majority of it continues to find evidence of harm.  California EPA has published a fact sheet to go along with the listing which explains more about BPA uses and how to avoid it.

There has been a lot of debate over what a so-called “safe” level of exposure is and that debate rages on.  However, the listing on Prop 65 can occur despite this controversy because the listing is not based on the dose or exposure level that causes harm but that the chemical HAS BEEN SHOWN to cause harm. In this case, based on a 2008 government report from the National Toxicology Program, there was clear evidence of reproductive harm.

The dose or “safe” level of exposure comes into question when the state sets a “safe harbor level”. That is the next step in the listing process and California has already proposed a Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL) of 290 micrograms/day. That is a relatively high level of exposure – and is based on high dose studies from the 2008 NTP report. It is not likely to result in any warning labels on any products in California but it can be changed, and we believe it should be, based on newer science which continues to find evidence of harm at much lower levels of exposure.   

In the meantime, even without required warning labels, retailers are already on alert.  They are already scrambling to have BPA-free products on their store shelves.  Having BPA on the Prop 65 list is one more reason for going BPA-free and it is going to further drive the market away from using this toxic chemical.

Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Don't celebrate too much though - in my next blog post - I'll remind you why just because something is labeled "BPA-free" doesn't mean it is safe.

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Comments

AnonymousApr 12 2013 10:20 AM

This is not a victory.

In additon to stressing-out the general public unnecessarily. The crusade against BPA has forced the substitution of inferior materials for polycarbonate, a material with outstanding engineering properties, from use in applications where there is no drop-in alternative.

The constant extortion of industry via chicken-little science will one day render the California market inconsequential. Then we can all move forward and ignore the insanity.

Patrick ComerApr 14 2013 05:42 PM

I'm surprised that the only comment on this important topic is one that is obviously lopsided to pro-manufacturing and pro-engineering and ignores the consequential effects of BPA on people. This non-professional, lackadaisical attitude toward having found one solution to packaging and then defending it to the hilt regardless of its unintended effects is pitiful and disgusting and brings shame to those worthy researchers and scientists who value their work. Let's hear some comments from people who are actually concerned about what we are doing to our people and to this earth.

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