OAKLAND – The decision of a scientific advisory committee to add bisphenol A, or BPA, to California’s Proposition 65 list of toxic chemicals is a huge victory in the fight to protect people from this harmful hormone disruptor, Environmental Working Group said today.
The Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee of the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment voted unanimously (7-0) yesterday to include BPA on the state’s Prop 65 list. Panelists cited the strong body of evidence that the chemical is toxic to the female reproductive system in both humans and laboratory animals.
“This important victory will pave the way for greater protection for California residents who are currently exposed to BPA in everyday items such as canned food and receipts,” said Renée Sharp, EWG’s director of research. “The panel affirmed what hundreds of scientists and a massive amount of evidence has consistently shown – that BPA harms the female reproductive system."
Sharp, along with EWG’s Bill Allayaud and Tasha Stoiber, made the case before the committee to add BPA to the Prop 65 list, which is required by law and must be updated at least once a year. It has grown to include 800 chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm, according to the state agency’s website.
BPA is often found in the epoxy that lines most canned food containers sold in the U.S. The chemical readily leaches into food, as testing by EWG’s demonstrated in 2007. BPA is also commonly found on store receipts, as additional testing by EWG showed in 2010. EWG led a four-year effort to ban BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups in California, which finally succeeded in 2011.
Today, BPA is no longer used in baby bottles or in infant formula containers, but it is still widely used in food cans and other plastic products. California’s scientific advisory board noted yesterday that essentially all Americans have BPA in their bodies and are continuously being exposed to more of the chemical. In 2009, EWG documented the presence of BPA in umbilical cord blood.
EWG has long fought for stronger policies in California and at the national level to help reduce Americans’ exposure to BPA. The federal Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly ignored the evidence that BPA is harmful.
Sharp said the Prop 65 listing could trigger manufacturers to remove BPA from their products. The state will eventually set a guideline for warning labels on items that contain the chemical.
“The ongoing question is whether the chemicals used in place of BPA in products are any safer,” added Sharp. “It is one of many reasons that we need a stronger federal chemical safety law on the books.”
EWG is at the forefront of the debate in Washington to ensure that chemicals on the market are in fact safe and to protect the right of California and other states to continue safeguarding their own citizens from dangerous substances.
In the meantime, EWG recommends limiting exposure to BPA by avoiding canned foods when possible and opting for electronic receipts at the checkout line. See EWG’s Guide to BPA for more information and tips.