Canada to add bisphenol A to toxic register in face of industry protests

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bisphenol a, Scientific method

Canada to add bisphenol A to toxic register in face of industry protests
Canada has confirmed bisphenol A (BPA) is to be added to its national register of toxic substances after dismissing industry calls to review its stance on the chemical.

Environment Canada (EC) remained unmoved by charges from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) that a failure to hold a review would leave it open to charges of pandering to emotional zealots and damage its reputation. The government body told it would complete the process started in 2008 to add BPA to its official List of Toxic Substances within weeks.

“We expect to conclude the process of having bisphenol A added to the List of Toxic Substances in Schedule I of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act,1999 (CEPA, 1999) in 8-10 weeks,”​ said EC spokesman Henry Lau.

Emotional zealots

The confirmation came as it rebuffed a petition from ACC executive directive Steven Hentges filed in July 2009 which urged the EC to set up a review process to reconsider its earlier decision to label the substance a toxic one.

In a frank letter, the ACC chief said the agency’s proposed order and screening assessment were contrary to its own guidelines, policy and legislative directives and were “not based on the best available data and scientific knowledge​”. Failure to hold the review would leave the body open to charges of having “pandered to emotional zealots”​ and would put its well-earned reputation at risk, said Hentges.

The trade body also said the opinion from a host of regulatory agencies across the globe that BPA posed no health threat, suggested there was no “credible scientific basis for this proposed action”​ by the EC.

The ACC also called on the agency to consider significant new data before acting and questioned its reliance on the conclusions of studies using laboratory animals. The chemical association said it was significant that no human health effects have been identified for BPA. It also cited a report from Health Canada that said "the current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including infants and young children."

EC response

But the Canadian minister of the Environment Jim Prentice said last month he was not convinced by the forthright letter, rejecting the ACC claim that it had highlighted vital new scientific evidence that merited close scrutiny.

“I am of the view that your notice does not bring forth any new scientific data or information with respect to the nature and extent of the danger posed by bisphenol A that warrants establishing a board of review in this case, and will therefore not establish a board of review”,​ said the Minister.

He added there would be further opportunities to register objections and said his Government was “committed to consulting with all stakeholders”.

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