Canada declares BPA toxic, sets stage for more bans

Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:46pm EDT
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada has declared bisphenol A a toxic chemical, prompting calls for far-reaching curbs on the industrial chemical that is used in everything from the linings of aluminum cans to coatings on electronic till receipts.

Canada added the compound, known as BPA, to a list of substances deemed potentially harmful to health or the environment in a notice published in the Canada Gazette on Wednesday.

That makes it easier for Ottawa to regulate the use of the chemical, perhaps by limiting how much BPA can be released into air or water or perhaps with outright bans on its use in specific food containers.

"The risk assessment of BPA put together by our federal government is very strong in terms of its conclusions, so I think it's a foregone conclusion that it will drive further action rather quickly," said Rick Smith, executive director of Environmental Defense, which campaigned to ban BPA.

BPA is mass produced and has been used for decades to harden plastics. It is widely used to line food and beverage containers, and a recent government report said it was present in the bodies of 91 percent of Canadians.

"We are literally marinating in it on a minute-by-minute basis," said Smith.

The primary health concerns center on BPA's potential effects as an endocrine disrupter, which can mimic or interfere with the body's natural hormones and potentially damage development, especially of young children.

"Our science indicated that Bisphenol A may be harmful to both human health and the environment and we were the first country to take bold action in the interest of Canadians," Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said in a statement.   Continued...