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California court removes BPA from toxic chemicals list

April 25, 2013
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California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) officially declared that the chemical commonly used in the production of plastic bottles and the coatings of food and drink cans was a reproductive toxicant.

The question over the potential toxic properties of bisphenol A (BPA) appears to have been reopened once again in the state of California, following a court's ruling that removed it from the list of "chemicals known to cause birth defects," where it was recently added, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Earlier this month, California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) officially declared that the chemical commonly used in the production of plastic bottles and the coatings of food and drink cans was a reproductive toxicant, based on a federal report that concluded it affected the development of the prostate gland and brain in fetuses and infants.

Adding BPA to the list of chemicals classified as toxic, authorized under a 1986 state law, Proposition 65, meant that manufacturers of products containing BPA had to provide warnings or to reformulate their containers but using the chemical itself was not banned. Placing warnings on labels of certain products can have an effect on sales, experts believe, as consumers are likely to avoid buying such products.

However, BPA stayed on the list for only a few days before it was removed after a preliminary injunction granted in the American Chemistry Council's (ACC) case against the OEHHA by Judge Raymond Cadei in Sacramento County Superior Court. The ACC asked for the listing to be frozen until the Sacramento County Superior Court announces its decision on the case it filed against the OEHHA. The ruling is expected this summer.

RELATED: BPA increases risk of asthma in children, study finds

Following the injunction, Kathryn St. John, a spokeswoman for the ACC, commented that the group saw no scientifically justified reason to include the compound in the Proposition 65 list. In response, OEHHA spokesman Sam Delson claimed that the agency was withdrawing its proposal for setting "safe levels" of BPA. Initially, plans were for warning labels on products that contained BPA in higher concentration than the "safe harbour level" but after the proposal was dropped all products containing BPA will be labeled if the compound ends up on the list eventually. Should this happen, labeling requirements would go into force a year after the listing.

The ACC, a trade group that represents chemical manufacturers, launched the lawsuit, claiming that new attempts to get BPA on the Proposition 65 list were just another attempt to interfere with the state's scientific process. The group's main concern is that listing BPA could result in pre-emptive deselection by manufacturers and consumers avoiding a large number of plastic products without a full understanding of the amount of BPA they are being exposed to or the potential effects of the chemical. Meanwhile, scientific reports find no reasons for concern, the ACC said, quoting a study by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration which concluded that BPA is "safe at the very low levels that occur in some foods."

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