STOP PRESS: Further public health victories as Belgium, France and Turkey ban Bisphenol A, BPA, in the face of fierce opposition from industry groupings representing the commercial interests of manufacturers. The US State of California and Sweden propose further action.
Belgium: On January 1 2013, the ban on BPA in the packaging of food products for children less than 3 years old entered into force. The ban was adopted in September 2012 and includes plastic articles such as spoons and plates for this age group.
France: On January 1 2013, France’s ban on BPA in all food contact materials intended for children under 3 years of age entered into force. As of 2015 the ban will extend to all age groups.
Turkey: As of June 10 2011, Turkey banned the use of BPA in baby feeding bottles and other polycarbonate items produced for babies.
California: The US State of California has placed BPA on its list of dangerous chemicals under Proposition 65 for the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986. The decision is intended to guard the public against harmful chemicals like BPA which could have an adverse impact on reproductive systems. This is not an outright ban on BPA but could lead to stringent requirements for warnings on labels. In 2012 California was the world’s 9th largest economy, and warning labels could have a significant impact on the polycarbonate plastics market by driving consumers away from using this toxic chemical.
Sweden: Sweden’s Environment Minister is advocating wider bans on endocrine disrupting chemicals, EDCs, because of growing evidence of their damaging effects on health. For the Swedish government, climate change and EDCs such as BPA are the 2 most important issues on the political agenda: both concern coming generations and the future of planet Earth.
Denmark: In September 2102, Denmark banned 4 phthalates used in consumer goods. The phthalates DEHP, DBP, DIBP and BBP are plastic softeners that act as endocrine disruptors. They are found in plastic tablecloths, shower curtains and also in feeding tubes for premature babies. However, because of the single market regulations in Europe, the Danes face a court challenge by the European Commission. The EU’s REACH Directive requires national governments to consult with the EU first, before taking action to ban chemicals. This makes REACH the lowest of the low as far as standards go. The issue is further complicated by the unresolved disagreement between two EU agencies, the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA, and the European Chemicals Agency, ECHA: the 2 bodies cannot agree on the safety of BPA and other EDCs.