Hanneke Brooymans


Edmonton – The Alberta government will not follow the initiative of its Ontario counterpart by taking an independent look at banning a potentially toxic chemical found in baby bottles.
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty announced Tuesday he would have an expert medical and scientific panel advise his government on whether or not bisphenol A and other chemicals should be banned from products in Ontario.
Bisphenol A is an endocrine disruptor, which means it interferes with natural hormones in the human body.
“There are 130 peer-reviewed studies that show bisphenol A is toxic,” said Aaron Freeman, policy director for an environmental think-tank called Environmental Defence. He said the chemical has been linked to cancers, including breast cancer, and attention deficit disorder, obesity and other developmental problems.
The chemical is used to manufacture clear, hard plastics, including baby bottles, sippy cups and water bottles. It is also used to line metal cans used for food.
Health Canada previously said testing showed the bisphenol A in baby bottles did not present a health risk to children. However, it has since re-examined the issue and will release a report on the issue in May.
Alberta Health does not want to duplicate this effort and will wait for the report, said Shannon Haggarty, a department spokeswoman.
Freeman said Environmental Defence is encouraging all provincial governments to proceed with their own regulations.
“We want to make sure that even if the federal government doesn’t decide to ban bisphenol A from food and beverage containers, that the provincial government will.
“If we can’t get this right, we’re unlikely to get anything right in toxics,” he added. “We’ve got an endocrine disruptor that is in baby bottles. How much more blatant does it have to get? Children are uniquely vulnerable to the risks associated with this chemical.”
Tests show that more than 90 per cent of Americans have this in their bodies, he added. And yet, unlike other toxic chemicals like mercury, bisphenol A is not bioaccumulative. This means people are being exposed to bisphenol A constantly, Freeman says.
McGuinty’s government will go ahead with a ban on the chemical in food and beverage containers if their independent panel recommends it, said Jane Almeida, a spokeswoman from the premier’s office.
© Edmonton Journal 2007