Experts Respond to Proposal That Would Add BPA to Prop. 65 List of Toxic Substances
As first reported by Promo Marketing on January 25, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) intends to add bisphenol A (BPA) to the Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. BPA has long been a source of controversy, and its status as a toxic substance remains up for debate with regulations varying widely between countries and even U.S. states. Pundits on both sides of the argument were quick to respond to Friday’s announcement.
Known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, Prop. 65 requires a publicly available warning be included on products containing one of the 800-plus listed substances. One of the recommended methods to indicate the possible toxicity to California users is through warning labels on product packaging or on the product itself. But according to Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist at the National Resource Defense Council, it’s unlikely that consumers will see such labels on their plastic bottles or aluminum cans.
“The proposed [maximum allowable dose level] for BPA is relatively high at 290 micrograms/day and is not likely to trigger any warning labels on canned food or beverages,” Janssen wrote in a blog post on Friday. If a product’s exposure risk is below the 290 micrograms threshold, it will not fall under the jurisdiction of Prop. 65 and the manufacturer will not need to make the information available to the public.
Janssen, who is in favor of a country-wide FDA ban on the substance, said OEHHA’s decision is “quite significant and makes official what parents have known for years—BPA is harmful and should be avoided.”
Not everyone was happy to hear the news come out of California. The American Chemistry Council, one of the most prominent opponents of BPA regulation, described the decision as “scientifically unjustified.” In a post on the council’s website, Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D. at the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council, said, “The weight of scientific evidence does not support OEHHA’s intention to list BPA under Proposition 65 and this action sharply contrasts with the results of the earlier assessment conducted by California’s own scientific experts.”