Should Oregon’s legislators ban the chemical BPA?

For Release January 27, 2009

For more information, contact: Todd Wynn
T: 503-242-0900
F: 503-242-3882

Cascade Policy Institute Releases Report Detailing the Negligible Risks of Bisphenol A

During the past several years, a chemical used to make baby bottles and other plastic products has been making headlines. Environmental activist groups are proclaiming it can put infants at risk. Groups like the Oregon Environmental Council and the Oregon Toxics Alliance claim that this chemical, Bisphenol A (BPA), is “toxic” and could cause cancer and a number of other ailments.

The Oregon legislature is now introducing Senate Bill 1032 to ban manufacturing, distributing or selling containers made with BPA. Because of the emotional aspect of “saving” children, this ban is specifically targeted for any product that is designed to be filled with liquid or food intended for consumption by a child under three years of age.

Bisphenol A is a widely used chemical found in the manufacturing of certain products, including polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. These plastics are used in a variety of products: baby bottles, five-gallon water jugs used in water coolers, medical equipment, sports safety equipment, cell phones and other consumer electronics, household appliances, and many other products. Its applications for food packaging and containers, particularly uses for water cooler jugs, canned foods, and baby bottles, have been the focus for environmental activist groups.

Cascade Policy Institute, in collaboration with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has released an extensive report detailing the benefits and the negligible risks of BPA use. The report clarifies why Oregon lawmakers and citizens should be wary of anti-BPA proposals.

BPA has a 50-year record of safe use and is one of the most extensively studied chemicals on earth. Less-tested or inferior alternatives will carry higher risks for consumers and children and are likely to come at higher prices.

The report’s author, Angela Logomasini, Ph.D., states: “”¦[S]tudies have been unable to establish a significant risk to humans even where humans were exposed to relatively high levels in occupational settings. The risks to consumers are much lower.”

Scientific panels around the world have reviewed, and continue to review, the complete body of evidence; and none report serious concerns about BPA. These include:

“¢ The European Union Risk Assessment. The EU’s risk assessment in 2006 found no compelling evidence of BPA-related health effects at estimated human exposure levels. In July 2008, the European Food Safety Authority reaffirmed the 2006 review.
“¢ National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (Japan). This extensive study of the issue found that “the risks posed by BPA were below the levels of concern, it will be unnecessary to prohibit or restrict the use of BPA at this time.”
“¢ U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Several FDA reviews have maintained that current BPA exposures are too low to warrant significant health concerns. After its most recent review, the FDA initiated additional research in one area based on findings in recommendations for further study by the National Toxicology Program.
“¢ Health Canada: After its review of the science, Canada’s public health agency determined: “Based on the overall weight of evidence, Health Canada’s Food Directorate has concluded that the current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children.”

The report also shows BPA has a wide range of valuable uses that will be at risk should these proposals move forward.

In light of the evidence presented, Logomasini concludes, “Despite considerable fears raised by activist groups and the press, the science does not warrant regulations on BPA. Instead, it shows that human exposure is too low to have any measurable impact. As a result, regulatory measures to ban or limit BPA use simply promise to raise prices for consumers and could have unintended, adverse health and safety consequences.”

Download the complete report here.

Cascade Policy Institute is a market-oriented policy research center based in SW Portland.