Major retailers pull bottles containing bisphenol A
Published Tuesday, April 15, 2008 9:43PM EDT
Major retailers including the Hudson's Bay Company announced Tuesday they're pulling products containing bisphenol A from their shelves, ahead of a possible announcement from Health Canada that the chemical is "dangerous."
Health Canada has not confirmed whether it will make such an announcement, but a report in The Globe and Mail claims the agency could make a decision on the chemical's safety as early as Wednesday.
Hudson's Bay, which includes both the Bay and Zellers stores, announced it will no longer sell products like baby bottles that contain bisphenol A.
Canadian Tire Corporation has said it will do the same, along with Forzani Group, which operates Sport Chek, Athlete's World and Coast Mountain Sports.
Other major retailers like Lululemon Athletica and Mountain Equipment Co-op had already removed the products.
Health Canada spokesman Paul Duchesne confirmed to CTV.ca that bisphenol A is being reviewed by the federal government's Chemicals Management Plan, which, among other mandates, is reviewing chemicals that have been identified as possible hazards to both humans and the environment.
He said that, according to a timetable set for the investigation into potentially hazardous chemicals, an announcement about the findings for bisphenol A was not scheduled to occur until either late spring or mid summer, depending on what the investigation finds.
If researchers don't like what they find out about bisphenol A, it could pave the way for it to be labelled as toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
This would lead to strict regulations governing the chemical's use.
Bisphenol A, or BPA as it's commonly known, is a synthetic chemical that is the main component in polycarbonate, the common, shatter-proof plastic that is used in food and drink containers. It is also used in everyday household items, from CDs to electronic products to baby bottles.
According to The Globe, Health Canada would be the first government agency from anywhere in the world to attempt to regulate BPA.
"I think if the government proceeds that's certainly a very important development and I think it would be an international precedent," Aaron Freeman, a policy director at Environmental Defence, told CTV's Canada AM. "
"This would place Canada as the first country to regulate bisphenol A. So it would really be a huge step in protecting human health from what we're seeing is a very risky, toxic chemical."
The move comes on the heels of growing public concern about the chemical's health risks. American studies have shown that most people test positive for trace amounts of BPA, which mimics the hormone estrogen.
Environmental Defence, an environmental advocacy group, has lobbied for the regulation of bisphenol A. Freeman said that the chemical has been linked to a variety of health problems.
"There are over 150 peer-reviewed studies that show that bisphenol A is linked to breast cancer, to attention deficit disorder, to obesity and a whole host of developmental problems," Freeman said.
"And what that means is because it's an endocrine disruptor, it interferes with the natural developmental processes in the human body."
The chemical can leach out of food containers when they are heated or put in the dishwasher.
In the meantime, Freeman said that consumers can take some steps to avoid bisphenol A.
Consumers can opt for baby bottles that don't contain bisphenol A, including glass bottles. And there are plenty of metal water bottles, including stainless-steel versions, on the market.