Canada's federal government is banning polycarbonate baby bottles, but it stopped short of excluding other containers that could contain bisphenol A.
The Health and Environment Ministries announced Oct. 17 that the government will proceed immediately to draft regulations that prohibit the importing, sale and advertising of PC baby bottles that contain bisphenol A.
The government also said BPA is a toxin, and it will take unspecified action to limit the amount of BPA being released into the environment.
The initiative makes Canada the first country in the world to take regulatory action on BPA, Health Minister Tony Clement said in a news release. The government first suggested in April it might proceed with a ban on BPA in baby bottles. The government stressed that the ban is aimed at protecting infants.
In its assessment the ministry stated: ``The general public need not be concerned. [The assessment] primarily focused on [BPA's] impacts on newborns and infants up to 18 months of age; however, health risks for Canadians of all ages were considered.''
Water bottles with 18.9 liters, or about 5 gallons, of capacity were specifically exempted from the ban.
In late July, Minister Clement wrote a letter to the Canadian Bottled Water Association, which said: ``Bisphenol A does not pose a risk to the general population. ... Consumers can continue to use polycarbonate water bottles (including large, reusable 18.9-litre water bottles) and consume canned foods and beverages, as the level of exposure from these products is very low.''
Officials with Richmond Hill, Ontario-based CBWA were unavailable for comment.
The International Bottled Water Association of Alexandria, Va., noted that Canada limited its ban to infant bottles and that the country's Minister of Health endorsed PC water bottles in its letter to the CBWA.
Joe Doss, spokesman for U.S.-based ICBW, said a Sept. 16 suggestion by the Food and Drug Administration that PC is safe for food contact is more relevant to U.S. consumers.
``[The FDA statement] makes us confident we can sell bottled water [in 5-gallon jugs],'' Doss said in a telephone interview.
The Arlington, Va.-based American Chemistry Council indicated supporting documents to Canada's ban exonerate BPA as a health risk.
``We are pleased that Canada has reaffirmed its earlier finding that the current research tells us the general public need not be concerned because current low-level exposure to bisphenol A does not pose a health risk,'' said Steven Hentges, executive director of the polycarbonate/BPA global group of ACC's plastics division.
Environmental groups agreed with the ban but said it does not go far enough.
``We are strongly supportive of government actions to get BPA out of a limited number of products,'' said Aaron Freeman, policy director of Environmental Defence Canada in Toronto. He said his group wants to expand the ban so that consumers can transition to non-BPA alternatives.
``We applaud the Canadian actions,'' said Anila Jacob, senior scientist for Environmental Working Group in Washington. ``We hope the Canadian actions will influence the FDA. We would like to see taking BPA out of all packaging.''