Canada turned heads last week when it became the first country to officially ban bisphenol A (BPA). Environment Canada, our northern neighbor’s version of the Environmental Protection Agency, announced last Wednesday that the agency is moving this chemical to its list of toxic substances.
The American Chemistry Council is fighting Environment Canada’s decision. The council has stood behind the safety of BPA throughout the process and is now demanding that Environment Canada review its decision, stating that the agency is pandering to “emotional zealots.” Environment Canada declined the council’s request.
This isn’t the first time Canada has taken action against BPA. In 2008 the Canadian government banned the sale of polycarbonate plastic baby bottles containing BPA, and in May France followed suit. Meanwhile, Denmark has banned BPA from any materials that come in contact with food or beverages, and Sweden is considering a similar ban.
Even though the EPA has acknowledged that BPA poses a major health risk, the Food and Drug Administration has essentially announced that it can’t do anything to regulate this dangerous chemical. In a statement released in January, the FDA said that under current regulations, manufacturers are not required to notify the FDA when they use BPA in their food packaging, meaning there are currently hundreds of different formulations for BPA-containing linings that the FDA knows nothing about. If the FDA decided to ban this chemical, the agency “would need to undertake what could be a lengthy process of rulemaking to accomplish this goal.”
Meanwhile, BPA bans haven’t fared any better in Congress. A bipartisan food safety bill unveiled earlier this month didn’t contain any regulations banning BPA, and while Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has vowed to campaign for an amendment to the bill that would ban BPA, industry groups are opposed to the amendment. In a statement released last April, the groups said that any bans should be delayed until the EPA has finished investigating BPA, at which time they will quickly take action if the FDA concludes that BPA poses a health risk.