Canada Considers Ban of Some Baby Bottles

Tony Clement, Minister of Health, and John Baird, Minister of the Environment, on April 18 announced that the government is taking action to protect the health of Canadians and the environment from another chemical of concern.

Canada is the first country in the world to complete a risk assessment of bisphenol A in consultation with industry and other stakeholders and to initiate a 60-day public comment period on whether to ban the importation, sale, and advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles that contain bisphenol A.

The comment period began on April 19, 2008.

"Canada has been the first country in the world to conduct risk assessments on a number of chemicals of concern, as a result of a new initiative announced by the Prime Minister on December 8, 2006 known as the Chemicals Management Plan," said Clement. "We have immediately taken action on bisphenol A, because we believe it is our responsibility to ensure families, Canadians, and our environment are not exposed to a potentially harmful chemical."

Health Canada's screening assessment of bisphenol A primarily focused on its impacts on newborns and infants up to 18 months of age; however, health risks for Canadians of all ages were considered in the screening. The main source of exposure for newborns and infants is through the use of polycarbonate baby bottles when they are exposed to high temperatures and the bisphenol A migrates from cans into infant formula. The scientists concluded in this assessment that bisphenol A exposure to newborns and infants is below levels that may pose a risk, however, the gap between exposure and effect is not large enough.

To be prudent, the Government of Canada is proposing to reduce bisphenol A exposure in infants and newborns by proposing a number of actions: to ban polycarbonate baby bottles; to develop stringent migration targets for bisphenol A in infant formula cans; to work with industry to develop alternative food packaging and develop a code of practice; and to list bisphenol A under Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Environment Canada scientists also found that at low levels, bisphenol A can harm fish and aquatic organisms over time. Studies indicate that it can currently be found in wastewater and sludge treatment plants.

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