UPDATED — A California panel on Thursday voted unanimously to list controversial polycarbonate ingredient bisphenol A as a hazardous chemical.
California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment's (OEHHA) scientific panel, the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DART-IC), voted 7-0 to add BPA to the Proposition 65 list, contradicting recent pronouncements from scientists and the U.S., Canadian and European governments that the chemical is not a reproductive threat to humans.
"We strongly disagree with the DART-IC decision to list BPA under Proposition 65 as a female reproductive toxicant," said Steven Hentges of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council in a news release.
"The decision is not supported by the extensive scientific record presented to the committee and is completely contrary to explicit input provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In April, FDA's acting chief scientist submitted a letter to the DART-IC stating that the results of FDA's own comprehensive research 'do not support BPA as a reproductive toxicant.'"
A major concern for the plastics industry overall is that listing BPA, a key component of polycarbonate and certain epoxy resins, could result in preemptive deselection by manufacturers and consumers avoiding a large number of plastic products without a full understanding of the amount of BPA they are being exposed to or the potential effects of the chemical.
Attempts to put BPA on the Prop 65 list began in 2009. The OEHHA panel decided to list it in 2013, though the American Chemistry Council filed a lawsuit to stop it in March 2013. The litigation is still slowly working its way through the court system.
The biggest difference for this round of deliberations is that, after an extensive review of the science on BPA, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared unequivocally in 2014 that exposure to BPA is safe for humans. FDA sent a letter to that effect to the OEHHA panel. Scientists also have provided hundreds of pages of information on the safety of BPA to the panel as part of the public comment period of the process.
California's Proposition 65, approved by voters there in 1986, requires businesses to notify citizens when significant amount of chemicals are present in products, workplaces, public spaces or released into the environment. OEHHA administers the Prop 65 program, including managing the list of potentially harmful chemicals.
In July 2009, OEHHA's Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DART-IC) voted unanimously that BPA did not belong on the Prop 65 list, based largely on the findings from a 2008 report by the National Toxicology Program.