EPA Launches Probe Of BPA's Impact On Environment

The Environmental Protection Agency said Monday it's launching an examination of the environmental impact of bisphenol A, or BPA, a widely used chemical ingredient in plastic.

The agency said its investigation will complement one by the Food and Drug Administration on BPA's impact on human health.

In a statement, the EPA said:

The BPA action plan released today focuses on the environmental impacts of BPA and will look to add BPA to EPA's list of chemicals of concern and require testing related to environmental effects...

... "We share FDA's concern about the potential health impacts from BPA," said Steve Owens, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. "Both EPA and FDA, and many other agencies are moving forward to fully assess the environmental and health impacts to ensure that the full range of BPA's possible impacts are examined."

Food packaging represents the most obvious source of BPA exposure to people and is regulated by FDA. Unlike FDA, EPA has authority over the potential environmental impacts of BPA. Releases of BPA to the environment exceed 1 million pounds per year. BPA has caused reproductive and developmental effects in animal studies and may also affect the endocrine system. The EPA action plan on the environmental impacts of BPA includes:

Adding BPA to the chemical concern list on the basis of potential environmental effects.

Requiring information on concentrations of BPA in surface water, ground water, and drinking water to determine if BPA may be present at levels of potential concern.

Requiring manufacturers to provide test data to assist the agency in evaluating its possible impacts, including long-term effects on growth, reproduction, and development in aquatic organisms and wildlife.

Using EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE) program to look for ways to reduce unnecessary exposures, including assessing substitutes, while additional studies continue.

And, continuing to evaluate the potential disproportionate impact on children and other sub-populations through exposure from non-food packaging uses.

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