Canada formally declares BPA toxic
A collection of sport and baby bottles potentially containing compound bisphenol A is seen in North Vancouver, B.C. on April 18, 2008. (Jonathan Hayward / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Published Thursday, October 14, 2010 8:56AM EDT
BPA, or bisphenol A, the chemical banned recently from plastic baby bottles, was formally declared a toxic substance by federal authorities Wednesday, when the chemical was added to Canada's toxic substances list.
"Health Canada considers that sufficient evidence relating to human health has been presented to justify the conclusion that bisphenol A is harmful to human life and should be added to Schedule 1 of [the Canadian Environmental Protection Act]," the federal government reported in the Canada Gazette.
Despite the decision, BPA is still widely used, and can be found, for example. in the white linings of many food cans, where it helps prevent rust.
The government said adding BPA to the toxic substances list allows it to develop regulations to manage the risks posed by the chemical.
"We are continuing our leadership on this issue and Canadians can rest assured that we are working hard to monitor and manage bisphenol A," Environment Minister Jim Prentice said in a statement.
BPA has been shown to mimic the hormone estrogen and studies suggest it can cause reproductive damage in lab animals. Other research has linked it to immune system dysfunction, early puberty in females, heart disease, and higher rates of miscarriage.
In August, Statistics Canada reported that measurable levels of BPA were found in the urine of 91 per cent of Canadians aged six to 79.
In 2008, Canada became the first country in the world to propose taking action against BPA. In October 2008, the government proposed that BPA be minimized in industrial effluent releases, limited in infant formula cans, and banned in baby bottles. That ban on BPA in baby bottles came into effect in March of this year.
In the U.S., two bills on BPA have now been introduced in Congress and numerous state legislatures have passed similar statutes. Other countries in Europe have also taken action on its use in baby bottles and in November, the World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization are holding an expert meeting in Ottawa to review BPA's health effects.
Rick Smith, executive director of the Toronto advocacy group Environmental Defence, applauded Wednesday's announcement.
"Three cheers for our country's continuing leadership on this dangerous substance," he said in a news release.
"We look forward to now working with the federal government to take the next important step: banning BPA from all metal food and beverage cans since these can leach it into our food."