European plastics body concerned over latest BPA decision

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Photo by Covestro AG

PlasticsEurope’s PC/BPA group has voiced its concerns regarding a recent decision by the European chemicals agency (ECHA) to identify Bisphenol A (BPA) as substance of very high concern (SVHC). 

On 16 June, ECHA’s member state committee (MSC) unanimously voted to supported a French proposal to additionally identify Bisphenol A as a SVHC because of “its endocrine disrupting properties which cause probable serious effects to human health.”

The substance was originally developed as a synthetic mimic of the female sex hormone oestrogen. But today, BPA-derived plastics are generally used in an extensive range of products, including CDs and DVDs, personal computers, medical devices, and food and drink containers.  

In response to the decision PlasticsEurope issued a statement on the day saying it did not “understand” the decision to support the Annex XV dossier on BPA put forward by the French authorities. 

“Industry highly [is] concerned about member state decision which is not consistent with the weight of the scientific evidence,” the statement said. 

The trade body went on to say that the decision was in contrast with its “thorough assessment” of the scientific data on BPA. 

According to Jasmin Bird of the PC/BPA group the decision is also opposite to the conclusion reached by the an independent panel of European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) which decided that based on the WHO criteria BPA was not an endocrine disruptor. 

“We are highly concerned about this development. We believe that this weakens the strong principle of science-based regulatory decisions in the EU, and will result in further uncertainty without providing benefit to the safety of consumers,” Bird added. 

According to PlasticsEurope, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published a comprehensive scientific evaluation for BPA in 2015, where it investigated the substance’s intrinsic properties together with the actual exposure of humans in order to determine appropriate measures to ensure safe use. 

In their assessment, EFSA’s researchers concluded, that there was no consumer health risk from current BPA exposure, PlasticsEurope said in its statement. 

The ECHA said on 16 June that Bisphenol A was already listed in its ‘candidate list’ due to its toxic for reproduction properties. 

The EU chemicals agency said the decision was made as BPA’s endocrine disrupting properties could cause probable serious effects to human health, giving rise to “an equivalent level of concern to carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic to reproduction substances.”

Two major producers which are affected by the decisions are German-based Covestro AG and Saudi Arabia's SABIC.

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