The Canadian government formally declared the chemical a hazardous substance on Saturday and published notification of its decision to place BPA on its list of toxic substances in the Canada Gazette.
It said that it will immediately proceed with drafting regulations to prohibit the importation, sale and advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles that contain the chemical, as well as taking action to limit the amount of BPA being released into the environment.
“There is evidence that low-level exposure to BPA, particularly at sensitive life cycle stages, may lead to permanent alterations in hormonal, developmental or reproductive capacity,” states the assessment notice.
The decision comes six months after the Canadian authorities first announced plans to limit use of the controversial chemical.
Impact on newborns
Regulatory agency, Health Canada, in its screening assessment of the chemical, primarily focused on the impact of BPA on newborns and infants up to 18 months of age; however, health risks for all ages were considered.
The scientists determined that the main sources of exposure for newborns and infants are through the use of polycarbonate baby bottles when they are exposed to high temperatures and the migration of BPA from cans into infant formula.
They concluded that BPA expose to newborns and infants is below levels that may pose a risk; however, the government said it is proposing the measures regarding polycarbonate baby bottles as a precaution.
The assessment did not raise concerns over adult exposure to the chemical.
Health Canada said that it will work with industry to limit BPA in the linings of infant formula tins, but that it does not propose to eliminate or reduce its use in other canned goods.
The North American Metal Packaging Alliance (NAMPA) said that, along with manufacturers of canned infant formula, NAMPA has been working cooperatively with the Canadian government since it began its review of BPA in April:
“Those efforts have focused on re-evaluating the already exceedingly low levels of BPA to ensure that they represent the lowest achievable levels.”
NAMPA said that this assessment of BPA offers 'reassurance to Canadians that the use of this chemical in the production of epoxy resins in metal food and beverage packaging presents no risk to consumers.”
The Canadian government also announced that it has allocated an additional CAN $1.7m (€1.07m) over the next three years to fund research projects on BPA, which it said will inform future decision making about the chemical.
Call for total ban
Executive director of the Canadian group Environmental Defence, Dr Rick Smith, argues that the government should go further and ban the use of BPA completely.
“With the non-toxic alternatives available, the federal government should require a transition away from BPA in all its applications in food and beverage containers, as soon as possible,” he said.
Last month, scientists from the US National Toxicology Programme said that effects on reproductive development from BPA in packaging cannot be ruled out and a recent study by UK scientists linked the chemical to diabetes and heart disease.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claim that the chemical is safe. However, the FDA is awaiting the outcome of a scientific panel’s independent risk assessment, which is due later this month.