Public overexposed to Bisphenol A, warns European agency
The European Environment Agency (EEA) has sounded the alarm regarding bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that finds widespread use in the production of polycarbonate plastics, which are commonly employed in the manufacturing of various items, such as food and beverage containers. Moreover, BPA is also used in the production of epoxy resins that are used as coatings on the inside of metal cans to prevent corrosion and contamination.
The EEA has stated that exposure to this chemical is far beyond acceptable health safety levels, potentially endangering the health of countless individuals.
The classification of BPA as toxic for reproduction by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Food Safety Authority's (EFSA) decision to significantly reduce the tolerable daily dose of BPA support these concerns. However, this potentially hazardous chemical is not universally condemned. The EU Medicines Agency has publicly criticized the EFSA's opinion.
The EEA briefing, based on data from the EU human biomonitoring study HBM4EU, reveals that up to 100% of participants from 11 EU countries were exposed to BPA above safe health thresholds.
The study measured BPA, as well as two substitute chemicals, in the urine of 2 756 adults. The exceedance rates varied between 71% and 100%. EEA highlights that the analytical methods used to measure BPA in urine have a limit of quantification above the human biomonitoring guidance value, meaning that the reported exceedances represent minimum numbers. In reality, it is possible that all 11 countries have 100% exposure above safe levels.
These results prompt the EEA to recommend a group-wise examination of alternative substances, a course of action that the industry opposes.
In response to these concerns, the European Commission plans to introduce a Regulation in early 2024 to ban the use of BPA in food contact materials, including plastic and coated packaging. The regulation will also contain provisions to avoid substituting Bisphenol A with other harmful substances from the same group. It will establish exceptions and transition periods for businesses.
The EEA, ECHA, and EFSA's collective warning indicates an urgent need to address the health risks associated with Bisphenol A exposure. With the European Commission's forthcoming regulation, it is hoped that measures will be taken to ensure the safety of millions of people across Europe.