Canada became the first country in the world yesterday to declare bisphenol A (BPA) to be a toxic substance that poses risks to human health and the environment. BPA is a synthetic chemical used to make plastic drinking bottles, baby bottles and storage containers as well as the lining of food and drink cans. Currently, it is found in virtually all canned goods and most baby bottles.
BPA is known to mimic estrogen and otherwise interfere with the hormonal system, and studies have linked it to elevated risks of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. According to Yale University researcher Hugh Taylor, BPA can increase the impact of naturally occurring estrogens like those found in soy, increasing a person’s risk of breast cancer and other conditions. Taylor also said that BPA can effect “epigenetic changes,” modifying the way that the body’s genes are expressed in a way that can be passed on to an exposed person’s children and grandchildren.
Studies studies have shown that it also affects the baby ratio and results in fewer male babies due to the estrogen mimicking qualities of BPA. Other studies have shown that prenatal exposure to BPA in plastics makes young girls aggressive.
In addition, BPA has been linked to a number of other problems, including: brain cell connection interference, increased risks of reproductive and immune system diseases and disorders, problems with liver function testing, interruptions in chemotherapy treatment, premature puberty, polycystic ovarian syndrome, and Erectile Dysfunction and male sexual problems.
Canada’ s announcement is the culmination of two year’s deliberations and comes in spite of fierce opposition from plastic makers and the food industry, who have repeatedly given false assurances of BPA’s safety. The American Chemistry Council executive director Steven Hentges said the move was “contrary to the weight of worldwide scientific evidence, unwarranted and will unnecessarily confuse and alarm the public”.
Recently the European Food Safety Authority dismissed scientific concerns raised recently in scores of studies, and said that it had found no scientific evidence that would lead it to recommend altering the tolerable daily intake of the chemical
However, the Canadian Government disagreed and said that its actions had been based on “robust and relevant scientific evidence”. Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health stated that “Our science indicated that Bisphenol A may be harmful to both human health and the environment and we were the first country to take bold action in the interest of Canadians”.
In the order adding BPA to the toxic register, Health Canada identified dietary intake as the primary source of human exposure and underlined concerns regarding the link between the chemical and neurodevelopmental and behavioral effects
Rick Smith, executive director of the Toronto advocacy group Environmental Defence, applauded Wednesday’s announcement.
“It’s a great victory for every mom and dad who sent a letter to their MP demanding that the federal government do a better job protecting the health of Canadians,” said Smith who noted that the toxic listing is the foundation for developing regulations to manage the risks posed by the chemical. Smith predicted that BPA will be removed from food and beverage containers in a few years.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., where only two canned goods makers do not use BPA and the toxic substance is so ubiquitous that it is found on cash register receipts in food stores, the FDA has been dragging their feet for years. This past January, the FDA did finally admit for the first time this that “some concern” exists over the chemical’s effects.
BPA shows up in the urine of 93 percent of Americans, and in 90 percent of all newborns.
http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_round_up. . .