OTTAWA – Canada on Saturday will become the first country to formally declare bisphenol A hazardous to human health and officially inform the baby-product industry it will no longer be able to use the chemical in baby bottles.
Canada’s announcement comes six months after Health Minister Tony Clement surprised the chemical industry by announcing the government’s plan to place bisphenol A on its list of toxic substances and ban its use in baby bottles.
In unveiling the “precautionary and prudent” move, Clement proposed a limited ban of the widely used chemical, also found in hard plastic sports bottles and the lining of food cans.
Most Canadians “need not be concerned” about the health effects of bisphenol A, Clement said at the time. “This is not the case for newborns and infants.”
The government’s final decision will appear in the Canada Gazette, which publishes the official regulations of the government.
Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defence and co-author of the forthcoming book Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health, said the expected declaration is a “good start.”
But he said new evidence continues to pile up, pointing to the detrimental health effects of bisphenol A on adults.
“There’s new science coming out on a weekly basis pointing to this chemical being a health concern for adults. Baby bottles are a good start, but the government now needs to take a look at getting this chemical out of the lining in cans.”
The latest research, the first large BPA study in humans published last month by the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, found a “significant relationship” between exposure to the ubiquitous estrogenic chemical and heart disease, diabetes and liver problems.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is under fire after determining last month in a draft report that BPA was safe for food storage. On Thursday, the Washington Post published an editorial arguing the FDA’s final recommendation, expected this month, could be “seen as less than fully independent.”
The influential newspaper cited the recent donation of $5 million to the University of Michigan’s Risk Science Center from Charles Gelman, the retired head of a medical device manufacturing company and outspoken proponent of bisphenol A.
The acting director of the university centre is Martin Philbert, a toxicologist who is also head of the FDA advisory panel poised to deliver its risk assessment of BPA.
Philbert did not disclose the gift to the agency as part of the disclosure process when he was appointed to the panel; he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he did not need to, since he does not stand to gain from it. The FDA is looking into a possible conflict of interest.