Industry Association Sues Gov. Brown's Administration to Keep BPA Off of Prop. 65 List
Representatives from the chemical manufacturing industry filed a lawsuit last Friday that could keep bisphenol A (BPA) off of California's Proposition 65 list of toxic substances. The American Chemistry Council (ACC) filed a lawsuit against California Gov. Jerry Brown's administration, calling the move to add BPA to the infamous list of hazardous chemicals "unjustified."
The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced in January that it intended to add BPA to the list of chemicals known to cause cancer or reproductive harm. The affects of BPA exposure are still debated by scientists, with harmful levels and side effects for humans still not fully understood. The ACC claims that the state is ignoring its own findings from a 2009 evaluation sponsored by OEHHA that unanimously concluded that BPA does not satisfy the requirements for being listed under Prop. 65.
"The state is ignoring its own panel of scientific experts, which completely undermines the scientific review process that citizens and businesses have relied upon for many years," said Steven G. Hentges, Ph.D. of the American Chemistry Council's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group. "Respected California scientists, appointed by the Governor, thoroughly reviewed the very report cited now by OEHHA, and unanimously concluded that it did not justify listing BPA. Because the regulatory and scientific process has been derailed, we are taking legal action"
California's Environmental Protection Agency, which controls OEHHA, said it had not reviewed the lawsuit as of Friday and was unable to comment at that time. The Los Angeles Times reports that Allan Hirsch, chief deputy director of OEHHA, said the 2008 report found "that there is clear evidence that Bisphenol A causes developmental toxicity in laboratory animals," which was sufficient to begin consideration for placement on Prop. 65's list.
The plasticizer, which is still used in some sports bottles and heavily used in canned goods and other plastic products, has already been voluntarily removed from a number of products including many drinkware lines in the promotional products industry, but inclusion on the California list would be the biggest strike against BPA.
That statewide level of regulation is what has chemical companies worried. Rather than print the required Prop. 65 warning label on products, many businesses simply replace the chemical with something else, leaving those chemical manufacturers to try and scramble for business. Last year, when California added a substance called 4-Methylimidazole (4-MEI) to the list, both Coca-Cola and Pepsi changed their formulas to exclude the chemical. The ACC would like to prevent that from happening again.
The OEHHA's proposal is not the first step taken against BPA in California. In 2011, Gov. Brown signed a bill banning the substance in baby bottles and sippy cups, which was followed by a similar nationwide FDA ban in 2012. Several other countries, including Canada and France, have implemented bans on BPA in certain products. The ACC notes that independent agencies in the U.S., Japan and Europe all "[support] the safety of BPA in food contact materials and other consumer products."
OEHHA has extended the comment period on the proposal until March 27, 2013. Interested parties may send an email to P65Public.Comments@oehha.ca.gov with "NOIL-Bisphenol A" in the subject line or visit www.oehha.org for more information.
Related story: California to Add BPA to Prop. 65 List of Toxic Substances