Magazine Environnement

Le bisphénol-A bientôt interdit dans les biberons canadiens

Publié le 21 avril 2008 par Lagrandeinvasion

Très occupée ces derniers temps, je n’ai pas eu le temps de mettre à jour ce blog et j’en suis désolée. D’autant plus que vous avez été très nombreux à venir ici (jusqu’à 2000 visites par jour… Merci ! ). C’est l’article sur le bisphénol-A qui a attiré une attention particulière et suscité de nombreux commentaires.

Sur le front du bisphénol-A (BPA), il se passe beaucoup de choses de l’autre côté de l’Atlantique, mais toujours rien ici.

La semaine dernière, pour la première fois, le National Toxicology Program, qui fait partie des National Institutes of Health (USA), a publié un rapport qui reconnaît un lien entre l’exposition au bisphénol-A et le cancer du sein, le cancer de la prostate, la puberté précoce chez les filles et des troubles du comportement comme l’hyperactivité. Le bisphénol-A représente – selon le terme exact que les rapporteurs emploient – “some concern” (que l’on pourrait traduire par “un sujet d’inquiétude”).

Quelques jours plus tard, le ministre canadien de la Santé, Tony Clement, annonce que la Canada devrait être le premier pays au monde à classer le bisphénol-A comme substance toxique et à interdire son utilisation dans le polycarbonate des biberons pour enfants.

Vous trouverez ci-dessous deux articles rapportant ces deux points. Ils sont en anglais. Désolée…

Report Raises Alarm About Chemical Found in Plastics

By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 15, 2008; 3:10 PM

For the first time, the federal government is raising health alarms about bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical in plastics that is used in such varied items as dental fillings, baby bottles and sports water bottles.

The National Toxicology Program, part of the National Institutes of Health, released a draft report today that says exposure to the chemical may be linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, early puberty in girls and such behavioral changes as hyperactivity. It urged further study.

The report marks a significant departure from earlier positions taken by the government, which had maintained there was a negligible human health risk associated with BPA.

“This is breaking new scientific ground,” said Anila Jacob, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit public health group. “It says that at very low doses, similar to what people are exposed to now, BPA poses a risk of adverse health conditions.”

Steven G. Hentges, executive director of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group at the American Chemistry Council, said the new report does not mean BPA is unsafe.

“It found no serious or high level concerns for human health,” he said, adding that the report called for additional research. “More research is always considered valuable.”

Infants are the population potentially most vulnerable to BPA exposure because the chemical is used in baby bottles as well as the lining of baby formula cans. “Formula fed infants are at especially high risk,” Jacob said. “They get a double exposure.”

BPA has also been found in breast milk because it is absorbed by nursing mothers through their exposure to various plastics.

Although the National Toxicology Program has no power to regulate BPA, its findings are used by other federal agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, which set safe exposure limits to chemicals.

The agency’s warning reverses the opinion of an earlier expert panel that minimized the risk of BPA. That panel was assailed by public health advocates and discounted after an investigation by the House Committee on Government Oversight found that the scientific firm hired by the federal government to perform the analysis was also working for the chemical industry.

Quant au Canada, voilà l’article du grand quotidien The Globe and Mail :

Better safe than sorry, Ottawa says of plastic ban
Canada’s move against bisphenol A evokes U.S. effort to curb use of insecticide DDT
April 19, 2008

In one of the most significant regulatory moves in decades, Canada is set to become the first country in the world to list bisphenol A as a toxic substance and ban the use of polycarbonate baby bottles.

It also intends to tell baby food manufacturers to reduce the amounts of it leaching from the linings of formula cans.

Health Minister Tony Clement announced the steps yesterday, saying current exposures to the chemical, while small, don’t provide enough of a safety margin for babies and infants up to 18 months old, placing them at possible risk of developmental or neurological problems.

Although the government doesn’t expect to formally ban polycarbonate bottles for another year, the use of the product is coming to a rapid end in Canada anyway. Throughout the week, retailers took the nearly unprecedented step of stripping their shelves of polycarbonate bottles used by infants and adults in the face of overwhelming consumer rejection of the product.

Canada on its own has never taken an international lead to ban the use of controversial substances. The move against bisphenol A, which is able to mimic the female hormone estrogen, is being compared with decisions made by the United States and other countries more than 30 years ago to curb the use of the insecticide DDT - the first major chemical challenged on public health and environmental grounds.

Bisphenol A is one of the most widely used synthetic chemicals, with industry able to produce about three billion kilograms annually, although none is made in Canada.

“This is the first time in living memory that our federal government has taken such a leadership position in the world on an issue like this,” said Rick Smith of advocacy group Environmental Defence.

“I think oftentimes Canadians want … to know that our country is doing right in the world, and in this particular case today it’s actually happening.”

The industry association representing BPA manufacturers, the Arlington, Va.-based American Chemistry Council, issued a statement contending the Canadian government acted without justification.

It said consumer product bans “are not supported by science and are inconsistent with Health Canada’s assessment” that found infants are not exposed to bisphenol A at harmful levels.

Although Mr. Clement agreed, saying that government scientists believe babies and young children haven’t been damaged by ingesting the traces of bisphenol A, or BPA, he cautioned that leaching from food containers was too high to give complete assurance of no harm.

“We believe that the current safety margin needs to be higher. We have concluded that it is better to be safe than sorry,” Mr. Clement told a news conference yesterday in Ottawa, announcing the decision as “precautionary action.”

He warned parents still using the plastic baby bottles against the common practice of sterilizing them with boiling water or adding boiling water to them for mixing formula; heating causes BPA to leach out and give an inadvertent dose of the chemical to children.

Federal scientists, at a technical briefing for reporters later, also recommended that pregnant women minimize consumption of beverages from heated polycarbonate bottles, although they think the chemical doesn’t pose a general risk to the broader population.

The Globe and Mail first reported nearly two years ago that some scientists had strong reservations about BPA - a chemical that was tested in the 1930s during the search for estrogenic drugs, but that in the 1950s began to be used to make plastics, the epoxy resins for lining cans and hundreds of other products. Researchers have linked it to a variety of hormonally influenced conditions thought to be increasing in modern society, including cancer, declining sperm counts and early puberty in girls.

Since then, The Globe has published more than 25 stories about the chemical and the debate over its possible hazards. Earlier this week, the newspaper revealed that Health Canada, along with Environment Canada, would issue a draft risk assessment recommending BPA be added to Canada’s list of toxic substances, a designation that allows the government to pass regulations restricting its use.

Major retailers began pulling the products from their shelves shortly after. That move has had reverberations in the United States, where the Washington Post reported that merchandising giant Wal-Mart, following the lead of its Canadian subsidiary, would also stop selling polycarbonate bottles.

And yesterday, the company that almost single-handedly made reusable polycarbonate water bottles an iconic part of modern life, from the backwoods to university campuses, announced that it would no longer use BPA. The maker of the tinted Nalgene water bottles, Nalge Nunc International Corp. of Rochester, N.Y., said it is switching to alternative plastics, such as copolyester, in response to consumer demand.

Canada’s decision is also likely to have repercussions on countries that have approved the use of BPA.

The European Food Safety Authority concluded in late 2006, based in part on safety studies funded by the American Chemistry Council, that BPA presents no health threat, even for babies and infants. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration also views BPA’s use as safe, based on two studies funded by the council.

The chemistry council submitted the same research to Canadian regulators. But federal scientists, who reviewed a total of about 150 different studies in their evaluation of the chemical, concluded that it should be labelled toxic.


Two uses of bisphenol A have prompted concern: polycarbonate plastic baby bottles and resins lining the insides of infant formula cans. Trace amounts can leach out of plastic when it is sterilized in boiling water, and from can liners when they are heated during the food manufacturing process.

The government intends to develop “stringent migration targets” for cutting BPA leaching from cans. It is not known how this will be done, but food manufacturers in Japan, following worries about BPA there, were able to successfully reformulate container materials to reduce exposures to the chemical.

Although BPA is used in other applications, ranging from eyeglasses to sports helmets and car lights, these do not pose a risk.

Polycarbonate is a clear, thick plastic that resembles glass and is often identified by the recycling symbol - the number 7 encased in a triangle - with the letters PC nearby.

While federal scientists believe current exposures aren’t generally hazardous, they were worried that the margin of safety for babies up to 18 months old wasn’t sufficiently large. While they are recommending a ban on polycarbonate baby bottles, they believe adults can continue to use drinking-water bottles made of it without suffering a health risk.

The government intends to place bisphenol A on the country’s list of toxic substances, a designation that will allow it to declare the ban on its use in baby bottles.

The draft risk assessment outlining the government’s concerns about BPA will be published in the Canada Gazette today and will be open for a 60-day comment period. If there is no new information to overturn the decision to ban, the government intends to declare BPA toxic as early as October.

Environment Canada scientists also found that at low levels, bisphenol A can harm fish and aquatic organisms over time.

Martin Mittelstaedt

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