EPA to Scrutinize Environmental Impact of Bisphenol A
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a number of actions to address the potential effects of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the manufacture of a wide range of consumer and industrial products.
The BPA action plan focuses on the environmental impacts of BPA and will look to add BPA to EPA’s list of chemicals of concern and require testing related to environmental effects. These actions are part of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s comprehensive effort to strengthen the agency’s chemical management program and assure the safety of chemicals.
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.
“We share FDA’s concern about the potential health impacts from BPA,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. “Both EPA and FDA, and many other agencies are moving forward to fully assess the environmental and health impacts to ensure that the full range of BPA’s possible impacts are examined.”
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.
requiring information on concentrations of BPA in surface water, groundwater, 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 program to look for ways to reduce unnecessary exposures, including assessing substitutes, while additional studies continue, and
continuing to evaluate the potential disproportionate impact on children and other sub-populations through exposure from non-food packaging uses.
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.
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.