Bisphenol-A, Episode VIII: The Saga Continues

March 14, 2018 • Posted in Technical

I recently read the PLASTICS NEWS story about the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) preliminary report on the safety of Bisphenol-A (BPA). While reading, I could almost imagine the producers of polycarbonate resin – of which the main building block is BPA – as Flounder from Animal House reading it and saying, “Oh, boy… is this great!”

In a nutshell, the preliminary report issued on February 23 was the result of a multi-year study of BPA, and it reinforced the FDA’s earlier decision that “currently authorized uses of BPA continue to be safe for customers.”

If you, dear reader, see this and say, “well, that puts the whole BPA controversy to rest!” I’d have to ask: you’re new here, aren’t you?

The FDA admits in its initial statement, “this conclusion is not without controversy.” There have been some studies indicating BPA interferes with the endocrine system. Manufacturers of baby bottles voluntarily stopped making their products out of substances containing BPA in 2009. One year before that, Canada banned its use in baby bottles.

And, in their study, the FDA admits to some areas needing closer examination. Per the story in PLASTICS NEWS, there was an increase in mammary gland tumors noted at one of five doses of the chemical administered to rodents.

This initial report is by no means the end-all for debate on this subject. Before the final release due next year, there is a public meeting scheduled for April 26 in Raleigh, NC, regarding the preliminary report. (Note to my bosses: yes, I’d love to attend this.)

Given the initial report’s conclusions, I now question whether BPA will remain on the California Proposition 65 list of known cancer-causing chemicals. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) fervently opposes BPA’s inclusion on the list, and, while more studies admittedly have to be done, the FDA’s findings give the ACC more ammunition in their fight to get this chemical withdrawn.

More importantly, what effect will this study have on BPA’s inclusion on Europe’s Candidate List of Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC)? While the FDA does not directly affect the European Union, its scientific studies have been taken into account in the past by ECHA (the governing body of European REACH legislation), so a good case could be made in regards to getting the chemical de-listed. (To play Devil’s advocate, the ECHA has made sure to have BPA classified as a potential danger in three separate categories over the last several updates to the Candidate List, so it may not be as simple as it looks on paper.)

No matter what the final study uncovers, even if it determines that BPA is – with apologies to Captain Beefheart – safe as milk, there will be groups out there who will continue to maintain that BPA is a dangerous chemical and shouldn’t be in products used and consumed by humans. Arming themselves with their studies, and even if current scientific proof flies in the face of their reports, it may well be impossible to get them to reverse their position.

Be sure to read Chris’ previous FDA related article FDA Conditions Of Use.

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