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As promised, the federal government published its final decision on the screening level risk assessment of BPA on October 18, in the Canada Gazette, Part 1. Regulations that prohibit the import, sale and advertising of polycarbonate baby bottles containing BPA should come into effect during 2009.

The impact of BPA on infants 18 months old and younger is of greatest concern.  When polycarbonate baby bottles are exposed to high temperatures, BPA may leach into infant formula.  Although levels of BPA exposure in this population appears to be below levels needed to cause adverse effects, some studies raised the possibility that even low levels of BPA may be of concern.

Oct 17 Health Canada news item.

Canada Gazette notice, screening assessment report and proposed risk management approach, as well as public comments.

Conclusions of screening assessment report

The report applied a precautionary approach to characterize risk.  It found that evidence from animal studies suggests that exposure to low levels of BPA, especially at sensitive stages of the life cycle (e.g., fetus, infant) may adversely affect human life or health.  As well, based on the anticipated continued or increasing exposure of organisms to BPA, the report concluded the chemical may cause ecological harm.

The government proposes that BPA be added to the List of toxic substances at Schedule I to CEPA ; the report found that it meets two criteria for being considered a toxic substance under s. 64 of CEPA, i.e., that it may be entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that:
•    have or may have an immediate or long-term harmful effect on the environment or its biological diversity; (s. 64(a)) and
•    constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health (s. 64(c))

The report also concluded that BPA meets criteria for persistence, but not for bioaccumulation, under CEPA’s Persistence and Bioaccumulation Regulations.  Nor did BPA meet the conditions under s. 77(4) of CEPA, therefore it will not be subject to the virtual elimination provisions under the Act.  Rather, the government’s approach will be to prevent/minimize release of BPA into the environment.

Proposed risk management approach – comments invited

As well the Ministers of Environment and Health released a proposed risk management approach, with a public comment period of 60 days. (to December 17, 2008)  The government intends to publish its proposed risk management measure by the autumn of 2010.

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