Policy-ish

EPA Takes A Closer Look At BPA

The controversial plastic additive bisphenol A is all around you.

BPA is even in thermal paper.

hide captionBPA is even in thermal paper.

iStockphoto.com

Forget how much might be in the cans of food on your pantry shelf or leaching from plastic water bottles at the office. Food packaging accounts for just five percent of the amount of BPA used in the U.S. each year, the Environmental Protection Agency says.

The chemical is common in thermal paper (think ATM receipts) and various industrial products, including molds for casting metal. Annually, more than 1 million pounds of BPA make it into the environment, where some of it, though exactly how much is unclear, ends up in the water.

So the EPA has decided it's time to give BPA a much closer look. The agency came up with an official action plan (read it here) and will evaluate whether to put the chemical on its list of "chemicals of concern."

Among other things, the EPA will start to test water for BPA to learn how much is out there and require companies to provide data to help assess the effects of the chemical on wildlife. Even with the evidence incomplete on how risky BPA is the agency will also plow ahead with projects to encourage the industrial use of substitutes.

Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration voiced its own concerns over BPAs. At the time Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the FDA's principal deputy commissioner, said, "Where we are now is 'some concern,' which leads us to want to recommend reasonable steps and at the same time do more research."

EPA's Steve Owens said in a statement, "We share FDA's concern about the potential health impacts from BPA."

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