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California Moves Toward Listing BPA as Reproductive Toxin

Cal-EPA signals 'intent to list' plastics chemical under Prop. 65

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 11, 2010
Contact: Shannon Coughlin, 415-336-2246 cell,

SAN FRANCISCO – Today the California Environmental Protection Agency signaled its intent to add bisphenol A (BPA) to the state’s official list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects, adding to the mounting evidence that the plastics chemical should be banned from food and beverage containers.

Cal-EPA said BPA, “appears to meet the criteria for listing as known to the State to cause reproductive toxicity” under the state’s landmark toxics law, Proposition 65. Once BPA is listed, manufacturers and retailers may have to disclose the presence of BPA in products they sell in California. In many cases, manufacturers have chosen to remove Prop. 65 chemicals from their products rather than label them.

BPA is a synthetic estrogen used in hard polycarbonate plastic food and beverage containers, including some water and baby bottles and sippy cups, as well as in the epoxy lining of food cans. BPA leaches into food and beverages and moves quickly into the body. More than 200 scientific studies show that low-dose exposure to BPA, particularly during gestation and early infancy, is associated with a wide range of adverse health effects including breast cancer, infertility, early puberty in girls, diabetes and obesity.

“Cal-EPA is joining the National Toxicology Program and many independent scientists who are concerned about BPA’s toxicity,” said Gretchen Lee Salter, policy manager at the Breast Cancer Fund. “The science is clear: BPA is a powerful chemical that can harm the developing fetus, increasing risk for breast cancer. Listing under Prop. 65 will strengthen our call to get BPA out of our food products.”

According to Prop. 65, a chemical must be listed if it is formally identified as a carcinogen or reproductive toxicant by an authoritative scientific body. Scientists at the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment relied on the National Toxicology Program’s 2008 report which confirmed “some concern” that infants were at risk from exposure to BPA. The decision came after a petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration said it is also concerned about BPA and provided guidelines for parents on how to limit their children’s exposure. Congress is considering legislation introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., that would ban BPA from baby bottles, sports water bottles, reusable food containers, and infant formula and food can liners.

In California, lawmakers are considering Sen. Fran Pavley’s Toxics-Free Babies and Toddlers Act, which would ban BPA from food and drink containers designed for children ages three and younger. Connecticut, Minnesota and four localities have banned BPA-containing baby bottles, and most major baby and water-bottle manufacturers and retailers have moved toward BPA-free products.

“A Prop. 65 listing will be one more nail in the coffin of this highly toxic chemical,” said Salter. “This chemical is bad news, and it doesn’t belong anywhere near our food.”

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The Breast Cancer Fund is the leading national organization working to identify and eliminate the environmental causes of breast cancer.