In January 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it had some concerns about the potential human health impacts of BPA and it would study the potential effects and ways to reduce exposure to BPA in food packaging. Food packaging represents the most obvious source of BPA exposure to people and is regulated by FDA. Unlike FDA, EPA has authority over the potential environmental impacts of BPA. Releases of BPA to the environment exceed 1 million pounds per year. BPA has caused reproductive and developmental effects in animal studies and may also affect the endocrine system. The EPA action plan on the environmental impacts of BPA includes:
Adding BPA to the chemical concern list on the basis of potential environmental effects.EPA is working closely with FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences on research to better assess and evaluate the potential health consequences of BPA exposures, including health concerns from non-food packaging exposures that fall outside of the FDA’s reach but within EPA’s regulatory authority. Based on what this new research shows, EPA will consider possible regulatory actions to address health impacts from these other exposures.
Requiring information on concentrations of BPA in surface water, ground water, and drinking water to determine if BPA may be present at levels of potential concern.
Requiring manufacturers to provide test data to assist the agency in evaluating its possible impacts, including long-term effects on growth, reproduction, and development in aquatic organisms and wildlife.
Using EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) program to look for ways to reduce unnecessary exposures, including assessing substitutes, while additional studies continue.
Continuing to evaluate the potential disproportionate impact on children and other sub-populations through exposure from non-food packaging uses.
In December, EPA announced that it will, for the first time, use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to list chemicals that may present an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. The decision to list chemicals signals EPA’s concern about the risks that the listed chemicals may pose and the agency’s intention to address those risks. These actions are part of the agency’s efforts to strengthen EPA’s chemical management program, utilizing current authorities to the fullest extent possible, while continuing to encourage legislative reform of TSCA, which has not been updated since 1976 and is in need of reform.
Polycarbonate plastic is the main use for bisphenol A (BPA), accounting for nearly 70% of total BPA production. Some of the common applications of polycarbonate plastic include:
CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray and other discs
Covers for solar panels
Security glazing, e.g. transparent cabins for ski lifts
Roof modules in cars
Safety goggles and protective visors
Reusable water bottles
Shatter-proof baby bottles
Roofs of sport stadiums
Medical equipment (blood oxygenators, respirators, dialysers, single-use operating instruments) Housings for electronic equipment (cell phones, cameras, hairdryers, computers, TVs, coffee makers)
Electrical equipment, such as plug connections or switches
Headlamps and bumpers in cars
Conservatory or green house glazing
More information on EPA’s BPA action plan, EPA, BisphenolAEurope.org