CTV.ca News Staff
Updated: Tue. Nov. 20 2007 10:52 AM ET
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is promising to appoint a panel of experts to study toxins like bisphenol A — found in many products used by children — with a goal of introducing legislation in 2008.
The announcement came as environmentalists, parents and children’s activists rallied Tuesday outside the Ontario legislature to push the province to ban bisphenol A.
Critics say bisphenol A, already being reviewed by Health Canada, could potentially be dangerous to humans. It is found in plastic sippy cups, rubber duckies and other common products used by kids.
Bisphenol A, the main ingredient in polycarbonate plastic, is also found in thousands of consumer products including office water jugs, food and drink packaging and dental sealants.
More than 130 peer-reviewed studies have already associated the chemical with a variety of health problems, including obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer and a wide range of developmental problems, says a press release by Environmental Defence.
“Our governments need to protect our children from the harmful effects of toxic chemicals. Kids should not be drinking bisphenol A with their milk, or eating it with their canned veggies,” said Dr. Rick Smith, the executive director of Environmental Defence.
Dr. John Myers, CEO of Environmental Health Sciences in Virginia, said in a written statement that Ontario has an opportunity to lead the world by banning the chemical.
“This stand is amply justified by the scientific evidence already in hand,” he said.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, Myers admitted that there was little scientific evidence on what bisphenol A does to humans.
However, he said studies on mice and other animals — exposed to the chemical at lower levels than kids are — have shown the development of cancer, reproductive problems, type 2 diabetes and learning development disorders.
An expert panel of the U.S. National Toxicology Program concluded recently that bisphenol A exposure to fetuses and to children could result in behavioural and nervous system impacts, says the press release.
Environmental Defence said it found 39 chemicals contaminating the children it tested as part of its national Toxic Nation campaign.
Even Ontario’s political leaders — McGuinty, PC Leader John Tory and NDP Leader Howard Hampton — had bisphenol A in their bodies when tested by the group.
McGuinty said Tuesday that Ontario cannot wait until Ottawa moves on the issue.
No other province in Canada is contemplating a ban on the chemical. However, San Francisco banned baby products containing bisphenol A last year.
Health Canada spokeswoman Joey Rathwell told CP the ministry plans to have a report on the chemical completed by May 2008.
The Ontario government is already planning to ban several toxins and says it is taking the concerns about bisphenol A “very seriously.”