A California environmental agency announced Jan. 25 that it intends to add bisphenol A (BPA) to a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm.
The California Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment said it has determined that BPA meets the criteria for listing as “known to cause reproductive toxicity” under the state's Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. The law, commonly known as Proposition 65, requires the state to maintain a list of chemicals linked to cancer or reproductive harm and mandates that businesses warn the public of any potentially harmful exposures to listed chemicals.
The agency also published a proposed rule that would establish a maximum allowable dose level of 290 micrograms per day for exposures to BPA. OEHHA said it would not move ahead with the rulemaking if BPA is not added to the Proposition 65 list.
BPA is commonly found in various consumer goods, including hard plastic bottles and the epoxy linings of metal-based food and beverage cans.
OEHHA said the proposed listing is based on a 2008 study conducted by the National Toxicology Program. The study concluded that BPA causes developmental toxicity in laboratory animals at high levels of exposure, satisfying the criteria for listing under the Proposition 65 regulations, according to OEHHA.
The effects observed by NTP in the study included decreases in litter size in rats, delayed puberty in male mice, and effects on prenatal and early postnatal growth in rats, according to OEHHA's notice of intent to list BPA.
OEHHA is accepting comments on the proposal to list BPA until Feb. 25. The written comment period on the proposed rule establishing a maximum allowable dose level for BPA will close on March 11.
Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist in the Natural Resources Defense Council's Health and Environment Program, described OEHHA's decision as “long overdue.”
Janssen, in a Jan. 25 blog post, said the proposed maximum allowable dose level for BPA is “relatively high” and is unlikely to trigger a requirement for warning labels on food and beverage containers.
Products containing chemicals included on the Proposition 65 list can be required to carry a warning label if exposure from the product is expected to exceed the maximum allowable dose level.
The American Chemistry Council, in a Jan. 25 statement, said California's proposal to add BPA to the Proposition 65 list is “scientifically unjustified.”
Steven G. Hentges, of ACC's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group, said the “weight of scientific evidence” does not support the decision to list BPA under Proposition 65.
The proposal “sharply contrasts” with the July 2009 assessment by California's Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee, which concluded that BPA does not satisfy the criteria for listing under Proposition 65, according to Hentges.
Hentges said the maximum allowable dose level proposed by OEHHA would provide a “sufficient margin of safety” for consumers, including children and infants.
“The Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL) is consistent with the safe exposure levels cited by numerous other regulatory bodies around the world that have assessed the full body of scientific evidence and concluded that BPA is not a risk to human health,” he said.
Hentges cited the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, European Food Safety Authority, Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and the World Health Organization as government agencies that support the safe use of BPA in food-contact materials and other products.
By Patrick Ambrosio
OEHHA's notice of intent to list BPA is available at http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/CRNR_notices/admin_listing/intent_to_list/pdf_zip/NOIL_ABPkg42BPA.pdf.
OEHHA's notice of proposed rulemaking on a maximum allowable dose level for BPA exposures is available at http://www.oehha.ca.gov/prop65/law/pdf_zip/012513BPA_MADL.pdf.