EDF Health

EU gets ready to ban most BPA uses. Once again: Where’s FDA?

By Maricel Maffini, PhD, Consultant, and Tom Neltner, Executive Director, Unleaded Kids

Warning message written in bold red letters with words Bisphenol A Exposure. 3d illustration.

What’s Happening?

On February 9, 2024, the European Commission published a proposed regulation [PDF, 502KB] that would ban most uses of bisphenol A (BPA) in materials that contact food—including plastic and coatings applied to metal cans—and restrict other uses. Interested parties can comment on the draft until March 8, 2024. (You must register to comment.)

This proposed regulation is based on the 2023 European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) risk assessment of BPA that concluded that dietary exposures are a health concern. The proposed regulation would impact the following bisphenol-based food contact materials:

  • Plastics: Would be banned from use if made from BPA at any stage of manufacturing.1 The only exception is polysulfone resins made from a sodium salt of BPA, which are allowed for use in filtration membranes if there is no detectable migration into food.
  • Varnishes, coatings, printing inks, adhesives, ion-exchange resins, and rubbers: Use of BPA and bisphenol S (BPS)2 would be banned at any stage of manufacture. Use of BPS or other bisphenols may be authorized on a case-by-case basis. The exception to the ban is bisphenol-A diglycidyl ether (BADGE)3 made from BPA and used to make epoxy-based varnishes and coatings, which are allowed only in making materials with capacity of more than 250 liters and there is no detectable migration4 into food.
  • Recycled materials: Unintentional BPA contamination would be allowed if there is no detectable migration into food.

Why It Matters

In its 2023 reassessment, EFSA estimated that the amount of BPA that could be safely consumed daily is 20,000 times less than its 2015 estimate. Among the health problems associated with BPA exposure are harm to the immune and reproductive systems, disruption of the normal function of hormones and reduced learning and memory.

The draft rule would manage the risk of BPA uses to significantly reduce dietary exposure after considering alternatives that are technically feasible at a commercial scale.

Our Take

The European Commission’s proposed rule is an excellent example of a risk management decision that considers safety and achievability. The Commission balanced protecting human health by eliminating as many sources of BPA as fast as possible with the implementation challenges. The Commission has included transition periods to eliminate all uses of food-contact articles manufactured with BPA ranging from 18 months for final food packaging (e.g., plastics, can coating) to 10 years for repeat-use, final food contact articles used in food production equipment.

In a previous blog, we stated that Americans’ exposure to BPA from food is similar to that of Europeans. Unfortunately, FDA doesn’t share the same sense of urgency as the European Commission. While Europe is on track to ban most uses of BPA in food contact materials, FDA is failing to take action to protect our families.

EDF and our allies submitted a food additive petition [PDF, 542KB] asking the agency to limit BPA exposure from food by revoking approvals for using BPA in adhesives and can coatings and to setting strict limits on using BPA in plastic that contacts food. FDA filed the petition on May 2, 2022, and has not made a final decision on it, despite a 180-day statutory deadline. It is now more than 600 days overdue.

Timeline

Once the rules are finalized, compliance would be required within 18 months for most products and within 36 months for:

  • Varnishes and coatings for processed fruit, vegetable, and processed fish products.
  • Varnishes and coatings used outside of metal packaging.
  • Manufacture of repeat-use components in professional food production equipment.

The rule would also allow repeat-use, final food contact articles used in professional food production equipment to remain in service for up to 10 years.

What’s Next?

We will submit comments to the European Commission seeking clarity on some aspects of the proposal. In addition, we will continue to press FDA to make a final decision on our petition, including potentially taking legal action for unreasonable delay in responding to it.

Go Deeper

Read our previous blogs on BPA.

NOTES

1 The rule is inconsistent regarding status of plastics other than polysulfone. EDF will submit comments seeking clarity.

2 The Commission may expand to more bisphenols if they are added to Annex VI, Part 3 of Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008 due to their harmonized classification as category 1A or 1B “mutagenic,” “carcinogenic,” “toxic to reproduction” or category 1 “endocrine disrupting” for human health.

3 BADGE (CAS No 1675-54-3) – is a type of epoxy resin manufactured from BPA.

4 Rule defines the limit of detection as 0.01 milligram of bisphenol per kilogram of food.

Posted in Adverse health effects, BPA, Chemical regulation, EFSA, Emerging science, Endocrine disruptors, FDA, Food contact materials, Food packaging, Health science, International, Neurotoxicity, Reproductive toxicity / Tagged , , | Authors: / Leave a comment

Unveiling EDF’s Chemical Exposure Action Map

U.S. map showing chemical facilities across the nationWhat’s New

Today, we are excited to introduce the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) latest initiative—the Chemical Exposure Action Map. This tool is designed to spur the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to transform the assessment of risks posed by toxic chemicals in our communities.

Our map focuses on multiple high-priority chemicals—making visible the urgent and long-overdue need to assess the risks of chemicals together as they exist in the real-world. Unlike many current methods that look at risks one chemical at a time, our map offers a comprehensive view, highlighting the potential for cumulative risks from multiple high-priority chemicals.

Why It Matters

In a world where industrial facilities expose communities to multiple harmful chemicals daily, many have long called for a cumulative approach to assessing the risks from these chemicals. It is crucial that we wait no longer to reassess how we evaluate the health risks they pose.

Pregnant Latine woman gazing lovingly at young daughter who is hugging her belly.

Read More »

Posted in Adverse health effects, Carcinogenic, Chemical exposure, Chemical regulation, Cumulative impact, Cumulative risk assessment, Developmental toxicity, Health hazards, Health policy, Public health, Regulation, Risk assessment, Risk evaluation, TSCA, Vulnerable populations / Tagged , , , , , , | Authors: , / Leave a comment

Lead Pipes: EDF comments on EPA’s proposed Lead & Copper Rule Improvements

Graphic of lead service lines connected to homes

What’s New

Earlier this week EDF submitted comments that urged EPA to finalize the strongest possible improvements to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCRI). An estimated 9.2 million lead service lines (LSLs) are still connected to homes and buildings throughout the country. EPA’s proposal is a critical step to protect Americans from the harmful of effects of lead in drinking water by requiring LSL replacement.

Why It Matters

The EPA’s proposal, if finalized, would protect public health and yield huge socioeconomic benefits. This rule presents a critical opportunity to fix this longstanding environmental injustice. Read More »

Posted in Drinking water, Environmental justice, Lead, Public health / Tagged , , , , , , , | Authors: / Comments are closed

Why are four notorious carcinogens approved by FDA for food?

By Liora Fiksel, Project Manager, Healthy Communities, and Lisa Lefferts, Environmental Health Consultant

Pregnant woman rests a cup of coffee on her belly.

While exposure data are scant, people who are choosing decaf coffee during pregnancy or for other health reasons may not realize that some popular brands contain methylene chloride.

What’s Happening?

On December 21, 2023, FDA filed a food-additive petition and a color-additive petition submitted by EDF and partners that asks FDA to revoke its approval for four carcinogenic chemicals approved for use in food.

There is broad agreement that benzene, trichloroethylene (TCE), methylene chloride, and ethylene dichloride are carcinogenic,1 and federal law2 is clear: additives that cause cancer in humans or animals are not considered “safe.” All the chemicals have been identified as causing cancer in humans or animals since the 1970s and 1980s.3 Read More »

Posted in Adverse health effects, Carcinogenic, Chemical exposure, Chemical regulation, FDA, Food, Health hazards, Public health, Vulnerable populations / Tagged , , , , , , | Authors: / Comments are closed

FDA’s latest study reaffirms short-chain PFAS biopersist. Now it must act.

By Maricel Maffini, PhD, Consultant, and Tom Neltner, JD

Female rat nursing multiple pups

FDA study found biopersistent PFAS in female rats and their pups,

What Happened

In December 2023, FDA’s scientists published a new study showing that when pregnant rats ingest a form of per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substance (PFAS) called 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohol (6:2 FTOH) their bodies break it down into other PFAS that reach the fetuses and biopersist in the mother and the pups.

The study also showed that the body of a non-pregnant animal produces different breakdown products that also biopersist. This study is the latest evidence that the assumptions made about the safety of short-chain PFAS (chemicals with fewer than 8 carbons) have been wrong. Read More »

Posted in Adverse health effects, Chemical regulation, Emerging science, FDA, Health science, Industry influence, PFAS, Public health, Rules/Regulations, Vulnerable populations / Tagged , , , , , , , | Authors: / Comments are closed

EPA’s new chemical review process: A thought experiment

Two metal gears meshing. The one on the top says "process." The one on the bottom says "optimization."

Note: This is the last in our 6-part series of blogs on EPA’s proposed changes to its new chemical review process. See below under Go Deeper for links to the other blogs in the series.

In our previous blogs in this multipart series, we have focused on some of the major changes we believe EPA needs to make in its review process for new chemicals—and how EPA could propose regulations to make those reviews safer.

In this post, we want to walk you through why EPA must set rules that protect us from all the ways that a chemical is likely to be used. Read More »

Posted in Chemical regulation, Congress, Cumulative risk assessment, Risk assessment, Risk evaluation, Rules/Regulations, TSCA / Authors: / Comments are closed