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Managing Editor  | June 2017

EU identifies chemicals in plastic as substances of high concern

The Member State Committee of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) unanimously voted to approve a French proposal to label bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical commonly found in plastics, as a substance of very high concern based on new research that indicates it can disrupt hormones and cause a threat to human health.



The EU has called BPA a substance of very high concern.
(Wikimedia Commons)


In addition, the committee also identified PFHxS (perfluoroheaxane-1-sulphonic acid and its salts) as a substance of very high concern, based on a Swedish proposal, because of the chemical’s “very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) properties.”


A press release from the ECHA stated, “Bisphenol A is already listed in the Candidate List due to its toxic for reproduction properties. At the MSC meeting earlier this week, MSC unanimously agreed on its additional identification as an SVHC because of its endocrine disrupting properties which cause probable serious effects to human health which give rise to an equivalent level of concern to carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic to reproduction (CMRs category 1A or 1B) substances.”


An article on the decision in The Guardian added, “The Green law group ClientEarth, which contributed to a 20-year battle against BPA, said the decision was ‘historic’ and called for rapid action by the authorities.”


The Guardian article added that BPA was originally produced in 1957 when it was used to produce polycarbonate and it became the world’s best-selling chemical (more than 3.8 million tons sold in Europe in 2006).


A recent study by the German Federal Environment Agency found traces of BPA in the urine of 591-of-599 children tested. This unsettling fact, combined with several studies that linked BPA to cancer, cell tumors, miscarriages, and birth defects, led to the recent proposal.


The Guardian added, “NGOs fear that industry groups are likely to challenge the Echa judgement, with the Plastics Europe trade association already opposing Echa’s earlier finding that BPA is toxic to human reproduction.”


A spokesperson for the trade association told The Guardian, “We are highly concerned about this development. We believe that it weakens the strong principle of science-based regulatory decisions in the EU, and will result in further uncertainty without providing benefit to the safety of consumers.”

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