Environmental Impact of BPA under Scrutiny

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) yesterday announced that it will be studying the impact of bisphenol-A on the environment and adding it to its list of chemicals of concern. BPA is a chemical used in a variety of consumer and industrial products. Some food and drink packaging, such as water and infant bottles, contains BPA. In January the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) said it had some concerns about the potential human health impacts of BPA and it would study the potential effects and ways to reduce exposure to BPA in food packaging. Now the EPA says releases of BPA to the environment exceed one million pounds per year. Its study of the environmental impacts of BPA includes:

  • †¢ Adding BPA to the chemical concern list on the basis of potential environmental effects
  • †¢ Requiring information on concentrations of BPA in surface water, ground water, and drinking water to determine if BPA may be present at levels of potential concern.
  • †¢ Requiring manufacturers to provide test data to assist the agency in evaluating its possible impacts, including long-term effects on growth, reproduction and development in aquatic organisms and wildlife.
  • †¢ Using EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program to look for ways to reduce unnecessary exposures, including assessing substitutes, while additional studies continue.
  • †¢ And, continuing to evaluate the potential disproportionate impact on children and other sub-populations through exposure from non-food packaging uses.

A New York Times article says the EPA action indicates the government is looking to reduce the use of BPA in food packaging, plastic bottles and other sources of exposure. The NYT page includes a list of resources from around the Web about BPA. Washington recently became the fifth state to limit the use of BPA in plastic products intended for children and sports bottles, joining Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Bills to ban BPA are also pending in a number of other states. Federal legislation to ban BPA in all food and beverage containers was introduced last year.

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