Toronto – Following the ‘abrupt reassignment’ of the Health Canada official in charge of reviewing the safety of a critical toxic chemical, Bisphenol A,Environmental Defence is calling onHealth Minister Tony Clement to set up an independent audit to assess the impartiality of all key staff involved in reviewing chemicals under the federal government’s Chemicals Management Plan to ensure the public trust is upheld.
 An article published in the Globe and Mail today revealed the lead Health Canada reviewer for Bisphenol A made public comments dismissing its potential harmful health effects. Bisphenol A is suspected of disrupting hormones, and is found in a wide range of consumer products, including hard plastic baby bottles and in the lining of food cans.

“The comments made by the head of the Bisphenol A review team clearly show bias in favour of the chemical. He should be removed permanently from the review of this chemical and all related files,” said Dr. Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence. “If Canadians can’t trust that Bisphenol A is being reviewed in a fair and impartial way, it calls into question the federal government’s basic commitment to protect our health and the health of our families.”

As reported in the Globe and Mail, Dr. Mark Richardson spoke about Bisphenol A at a conference in the United States in March. According to the article, Dr. Richardson “…dismissed possible health threats posed by exposures to the substance, comparing it to eating tofu.”

“Though it is encouraging that the federal government has temporarily removed Dr. Richardson from the review of Bisphenol A, the larger concern remains and must be addressed,” said Smith. “The Bisphenol A review is a litmus test for the federal government’s overall efforts to study the safety of dozens of key chemicals. It’s absolutely critical that Health Canada staff reviewing these chemicals are free from bias and industry influence.”

More than 130 peer-reviewed studies have found Bisphenol A to be toxic at low doses, some similar to the levels found in humans. Health risks of the substance include prostate and breast cancer, immune system dysfunction, early puberty in females, and higher rates of miscarriage. New studies with similar findings of the substance’s toxicity are being published almost every month.

As part of its national Toxic Nation project, Environmental Defence recently launched a campaign to ban Bisphenol A in all food and beverage containers. A petition calling for the ban is available on the Toxic Nation web site – www.toxicnation.ca. Environmental Defence is testing Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, Ontario Opposition Leader John Tory and Ontario NDP Leader Howard Hampton for a range of toxic chemicals in their blood, including Bisphenol A. Results will be released this summer.

About Environmental Defence (www.environmentaldefence.ca): Environmental Defence protects the environment and human health. We research. We educate. We go to court when we have to. All in order to ensure clean air, safe food and thriving ecosystems. Nationwide.
 
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For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Jennifer Foulds, Environmental Defence, (416) 323-9521 ext. 232; (647) 280-9521 (cell)