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Environmental News Service (ENS)

Canada to Ban Bisphenol A in Baby Bottles, US Urged to Follow


Plastic baby bottles that do not contain bisphenol A are available. (Photo courtesy The Soft Landing)

OTTAWA, Ontario - The Government
of Canada led by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, newly
re-elected last week, will immediately draft the world's first
regulations to prohibit the importation, sale and advertising of
plastic baby bottles that contain the chemical bisphenol A.

The government also will take action to limit the amount of
bisphenol A that is being released into the environment. Environment
Canada scientists have found that bisphenol A is entering the
environment through wastewater, washing residues and leachate from

Minister of Health Tony Clement said Friday, "Today's announcement is a
milestone for our government and for Canada as the first country in the
world to take regulatory action."

"Many Canadians, especially mothers of babies and small
children in my own constituency of Ottawa West-Nepean, have expressed
their concern to me about the risks of bisphenol A in baby bottles,"
said Environment Minister John Baird. "Today's confirmation of our ban
on BPA in baby bottles proves that our government did the right thing
in taking action to protect the health and environment for all

Bisphenol A is an industrial chemical used to make a hard, clear
plastic known as polycarbonate, which is used in many consumer
products, including reusable water bottles and baby bottles. Bisphenol
A is also found in epoxy resins, which act as a protective lining on
the inside of metal food and beverage cans.

Canadian officials say the general public need not be concerned
about intake of bisphenol A, which primarily harms newborns and infants
up to 18 months of age.

"In 2007, we issued a challenge to industry under our Chemicals
Management Plan to provide information on how they manage bisphenol A,"
said Clement.

This assessment helped the government to determine that the
main sources of exposure for newborns and infants are through the use
of polycarbonate baby bottles when they are exposed to high
temperatures and the migration of bisphenol A from the plastic lining
of metal cans into infant formula.

The scientists concluded in this assessment that bisphenol A exposure
to newborns and infants is below levels that cause effects.

However, due to the uncertainty raised in some studies relating
to the potential effects of low levels of bisphenol A, the government
of Canada is taking action to enhance the protection of infants and
young children.

When bisphenol A enters the environment, the chemical breaks
down slowly where there is a lack of oxygen. The combination of the
slow break down of BPA and its wide use in Canada means that over time,
this chemical could build up in bodies of water and harm fish and other

The government has allocated an additional $1.7 million over
the next three years to fund research projects on bisphenol A. This
research, in addition to major studies currently underway at Health
Canada and Environment Canada, will help to address key knowledge gaps
in both the Canadian and international scientific community, and inform
government decision-making should further actions be required, the
officials said.

The final screening assessment report and proposed risk
management approach was published in Canada Gazette, Part I, on
Saturday, October 18, 2008. The proposed risk management approach will
be followed by a 60-day consultation period. Regulations are expected
to come into effect in 2009.

Today in Washington, DC, the Natural Resources Defense Council
petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of
bisphenol A in all food packaging and as a food additive.

The national nonprofit organization says in its petition that the
chemical "causes serious adverse health effects, and the FDA's
continued approval of BPA for use in food packaging violates federal

"When parents prepare their infant's bottle, pour their
toddler's juice, or make their family dinner with a can of soup or
vegetables, they shouldn't have to worry they are feeding their
children dangerous chemicals," said Dr. Sarah Janssen, scientist in the
health program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Biomonitoring done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention has revealed that there is widespread human exposure to BPA,
the petition states.

The CDC tested over 2,500 urine samples from people over the age of six
and found nearly 93 percent of samples contained BPA metabolites.Although the CDC does not do biomonitoring in subjects
younger than age six, other scientists have found BPA metabolites in
human follicular fluid, amniotic fluid, and breast milk, indicating
that prenatal, fetal, and neonatal BPA exposures are occurring.

"This evidence of early life exposure to BPA is most troubling because
it is occurring during critical periods of organ development when
permanent harm can be done," the NRDC says in its petition.

The NRDC points to research findings that everyday levels of
bisphenol A may be linked to reproductive abnormalities, prostate and
breast cancer, neurological damage, insulin resistance and diabetes,
obesity, and cardiovascular disease.

The FDA first approved use of bisphenol in food packaging in
the 1960s. The FDA is now proposing to reaffirm its safety based on two
industry-funded studies. Since its original approval, however, new data
evaluated by another federal agency, the National Toxicology Program,
shows that BPA is a threat at lower levels than the FDA has concluded.

"BPA-free products are already on shelves, but right now it's
confusing and up to the consumer to make the right choices," said Dr.
Janssen. "We rely on the FDA to protect us from dangerous chemicals in
our food and beverages. They need to step-up and make sure all of us
are safe from BPA."

If parents and caregivers continue to use polycarbonate baby
bottles, the Canadian government recommends that very hot or boiling
water not be put into them, as very hot water causes bisphenol A to
migrate out of the bottle at a much higher rate than when it is filled
with cooler liquids.

Water should be boiled and allowed to cool to lukewarm in a
non-polycarbonate container before transferring to baby bottles, health
officials warn.

These bottles can be sterilized according to instructions on infant
formula labels and can be cleaned in the dishwasher. They should be
left to cool to room temperature before adding the infant formula.

Health officials warn that baby bottles should not be heated in
the microwave as the liquid may heat unevenly and can cause burns.

To identify polycarbonate bottles, check to see if the bottom of the
bottle has the number 7 in the center of the recycling symbol. Although
the number 7 is a broad category, you can only be sure it is
polycarbonate if the number 7 also has a PC beside it. If the bottle
does not have a recycling symbol, there is no certain means of
identifying whether it is made from polycarbonate or not.


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