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April 5, 2010
Volume 88, Number 14
p. 8
Article appeared online March 31, 2010

EPA Targets Bisphenol A

Regulation: Agency will examine levels of plastics chemical in water supply and effects on wildlife

Britt E. Erickson

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EPA will require testing of drinking water to see whether BPA concentrations are above levels of concern. Shutterstock
EPA will require testing of drinking water to see whether BPA concentrations are above levels of concern.

The Environmental Protection Agency has added bisphenol A (BPA) to its list of chemicals targeted for possible regulation. The agency announced its action plan for BPA on March 29, citing concerns about potential environmental impacts of the widely used plastics chemical.

In the plan, EPA will use its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) to gather information on the concentrations of BPA in surface, ground, and drinking water. The agency will also require manufacturers to provide data on the reproductive and developmental effects of BPA in aquatic organisms and wildlife.

EPA estimates that in the U.S., the amount of BPA released into the environment exceeds 1 million lb annually. The proposed rules are expected to be published this fall.

In January, the Food & Drug Administration announced that it has "some concern" about the potential health effects of BPA on infants and children (C&EN, Jan. 25, page 8). FDA is currently studying the health impacts of BPA from food packaging and ways to reduce exposure to the chemical.

"We share FDA's concern about the potential health impacts from BPA," Steve Owens, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Prevention, Pesticides & Toxic Substances, said in a statement. EPA will also examine ways to reduce exposures to BPA and assess the safety of alternatives through its Design for the Environment program. EPA does not, however, intend to initiate rulemaking under TSCA on the basis of risks to human health at this time.

EPA's decision comes amid pressure from environmental activists and members of Congress to expedite regulatory action on BPA. In early March, Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson, urging EPA to take immediate action against BPA as part of the agency's efforts to reform its chemicals management program.

The American Chemistry Council, a trade group that represents the chemical industry including several BPA manufacturers, emphasized in a statement that EPA is not proposing any regulations because of concerns about human health. The group said it looks forward to working with EPA on modernizing TSCA "in a way that allows EPA to better prioritize chemicals for review."

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
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