Bill Introduced in Congress to Ban Bisphenol A (BPA)

The chemical bisphenol A (BPA) remains hotly debated.  This summer, Senator Edward Markey (D-MA) and Congresswomen Lois Capps (D-CA) and Grace Meng (D-NY) announced the Ban Poisonous Additives (BPA) Act.  The bill seeks to prohibit the use of BPA from food packaging and would impose an alternatives assessment requirement for any chemicals sought to replace BPA.

Some claim that low-dose exposure to BPA, which had been frequently used for years in plastics such as baby bottles, has been associated with a wide range of health effects including behavioral problems and prostate, breast and liver cancer. 

The Ban Poisonous Additives Act is just the latest in a series of actions taken largely by states and retailers in the United States to restrict exposure to BPA in the absence of regulatory action. Today, several countries, including Canada, and 12 American states have enacted laws to restrict the use of BPA in food containers, and many leading retailers have pulled BPA-based plastic water and baby bottles from their shelves.  So far, the primary target has been reusable plastic bottles.  This new bill would go further and ban the use of BPA in the lining of food cans. 

The proposed legislation comes on the heels of a recent decision by the European Food Safety Authority that temporarily reduced allowable safe human exposure level for BPA by 90 percent, to five micrograms per kilogram per day.  The U.S. FDA maintains that BPA is safe and allows exposure to 50 micrograms per kilogram per day.  For the past several years, the FDA has been working with the National Institute of Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) on an extensive research project, known as CLARITY, to answer outstanding questions about the safety of BPA.  The project involves the participation of academic researchers and will explore effects on the reproductive system, brain, heart, metabolism and mammary and prostate glands.  Results are just beginning to come out and are expected to continue to appear in the published literature over the next few years.