BPA ‘presumed’ reproductive toxicant | Breast Cancer UK

BPA ‘presumed’ reproductive toxicant

Published 10 Feb 2016

Breast Cancer UK welcomes the decision of the European Commission-member state REACH committee that Bisphenol A be classified as a category 1B presumed reproductive toxicant i.e. a substance which can adversely effect the human reproductive system. 

Last week’s decision has strengthened the existing classification and labelling of Bisphenol A (BPA) from a category 2 “suspected” reproductive toxicant to a category 1B “presumed” reproductive toxicant, regarding the adverse effects on sexual function and fertility. The new classification is important as if a substance is classified as a category 1 reproductive toxicant, it can be nominated, as a substance of very high concern (SVHC), according to REACH Article 57(a).  

Listing of a substance as an SVHC is the first step in the procedure for restriction of its use and results in more stringent regulatory measures. For example suppliers of mixtures of substances which contain more than 0.1% by weight of an SVHC would need to provide their customers with a safety data sheet on request and manufacturers and suppliers of articles would need to notify the European Chemicals Agency of quantities of SVHCs used in their articles. There would also be an obligation to implement stronger preventative measures for professional use, principally by using substitutes. Listing the substance as an SVHC may take some time yet and it is possible a member state may first choose to conduct a risk management option analysis.

The European Commission Committee’s decision follows that of the state of California, which last year added BPA to its proposition 65 list of chemicals that are known to cause cancer or birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Bisphenol A has been used in the plastics industry for over 50 years. It is found in household polycarbonate plastics, till receipts and dental fillings. It has become widespread in the environment and human population, where it is routinely detected in fat tissue, breast tissue placenta and breast milk. It is a known oestrogen mimic and BPA exposure increases mammary cancers in rodents. We believe there is sufficient scientific evidence to show that even low level exposure to BPA has an adverse effect on the development of breast tissue.  Breast Cancer UK has long campaigned for a ban on the use of BPA in food and drinks packaging, due to its potential role in increasing breast cancer risk. We urge the Committee to consider extending the classification to other bisphenols, such as bisphenol S and Bisphenol Z which have been used by some manufacturers as a substitute for BPA but which have also been found to be similarly toxic and damaging to human health and the environment. 

The next step will be to send the draft regulation to the European parliament for scrutiny then after around 3 months the regulation will be published in the EU Official Journal. Twenty days after publication it will enter into force and 18 months later it will be applied.

For further information see our fact sheet on BPA

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