After three months of debate, California has decided to add controversial chemical bisphenol A (BPA) to the Proposition 65 list of toxic chemicals. The announcement was made late on April 11 by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), a part of California's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
"The listing of BPA is based on formal identification by the National Toxicology Program (NTP), an authoritative body, in a final report by the NTP Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR), that BPA causes reproductive toxicity (developmental endpoint) at high doses," the OEHHA said in a statement. The agency agreed to move forward with the decision despite a March 2013 lawsuit by the American Chemistry Council that calls the listing "unjustified."
Prop. 65, formally known as Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, requires that a publicly available warning be included on products containing one of the 800 substances deeded toxic. Products containing a level of BPA above OEHHA's recommended dosage will need to provide a label on the packaging or on the item itself stating that it contains one or more chemicals known to cause birth defects and cancer.
The act does not prohibit the use of any of the listed chemicals, although users often avoid products with the labels and manufacturers are quick to find replacement materials. BPA was used in plastic sports bottles and drinkware for years, but most promotional products suppliers have switched their lines to include BPA-free options since the chemical came into question in 2008.
Opponents of BPA quickly applauded the EPA's decision. "This is a public health victory that has been a long time coming and after years of delay, California has moved quickly in just a few months to finalize this listing," said Sarah Janssen, senior scientist at the National Resource Defense Council. "We should all thank them for doing the right thing to protect public health and not bowing to industry pressure."
Related story: California to Add BPA to Prop. 65 List of Toxic Substances