Regulatory Inaction Underscores Need for BPA Ban Law

For Immediate Release: 
Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – A California science advisory panel today failed to declare exposure to the plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA) toxic to the developing fetus and child, despite mounting scientific evidence of health risks.

The decision by the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant (DART) Identification Committee, meeting in Oakland, not to add bisphenol A, a synthetic estrogen shown to disrupt the hormone system, to the state list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm is at odds with the positions of the federal government’s National Toxicology Program and the federal Food and Drug Administration’s advisory Science Board.

”Today’s decision does little to diminish the momentum on BPA,” said Bill Allayaud, Director of Government Affairs for the Environmental Working Group in California “We can’t go a week without another damning study of BPA’s impacts on the brain and behavior, the reproductive and cardiovascular systems and other vital organs. As a result, manufacturers are rapidly developing safer alternatives to satisfy consumer demand for baby and beverage bottles, infant formula and can linings free of this dangerous chemical."

Lawmakers in Congress and in more than 20 states and municipalities have enacted or are considering restrictions on the use of BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups and other food packaging marketed for infants and young children.

The California State Senate has approved a BPA ban authored by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills. The state assembly is expected to vote on the Pavley bill sometime in the fall.

The move by the DART panel, political appointees named to advise regulators in the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), curtails efforts to add BPA to the state’s list of chemicals known to cause developmental and reproductive toxicity. The list was established by the state’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, better known as Proposition 65.

The DART panel has voted to list only one chemical over the past 3 years. Its ability to assess chemicals for the list is constrained by the unusual requirement that it focus only on studies that show harm during pregnancy. This rule forces it to ignore evidence that early life exposures also contribute to harm.

Scientists employed by OEHHA, the state environmental health regulatory agency, made a strong case for listing BPA as a danger to human health, citing dozens of research studies finding that BPA impairs normal development of male and female reproductive systems.

EWG research has detected BPA in liquid baby formula and canned food in concentrations that could pose risks to infants, young children and pregnant women. EWG has confirmed that all major U.S. formula companies use BPA in the linings of liquid formula cans. Most formula-makers claim they are looking for a suitable replacement.

EWG has compiled a timeline detailing the history of bisphenol A, from its invention 120 years ago to today, as policymakers at the state and federal level debate eliminating its use in children’s food and beverage packaging and other products.

Bill Allayaud's testimony before the Meeting of California Office of Environmental Health and Hazard Assessment’s (OEHHA’s) Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity Identification Committee.


EWG is a nonprofit research organization based in Washington, DC that uses the power of information to protect human health and the environment.