FRIDAY, Sept. 28, 2012 — Health Canada announced yesterday that it still has no reason to conclude that the level of bisphenol A, or BPA, in food packaging is harmful to people — the same position the Canadian government has held since 2008. The updated statement is based on a new assessment of BPA data.
BPA has been the topic of much controversy in many countries, and in 2008, the Canadian government said that ingestion of the chemical, found in plastic bottles and linings of metal cans, posed no health risk to the general population. Two years later, they instituted a pioneering ban on BPA use in baby bottles, addressing its potential toxicity to infants and children — a decision that was based on research evidence that the chemical leached out of plastic containers upon heating.
While the Canadian ban on BPA in baby bottles is still in effect, Health Canada maintains that its original 2008 policy statement that BPA doesn’t pose a serious health risk still stands. “Updated dietary exposure assessments are lower than those estimated in the assessment of August 2008,” the agency writes in its updated assessment. “Therefore, based on the overall weight of evidence, the findings of the previous assessment remain unchanged and Health Canada’s Food Directorate continues to conclude that current dietary exposure to BPA through food packaging uses is not expected to pose a health risk to the general population, including newborns and young children.”
However, there are studies hinting at a link between BPA and cancer, infertility, and diabetes in animals, and more recently to obesity in children, but there is no consensus among scientists on BPA ‘s actual harm to humans. Leonardo Trasande, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and environmental medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and one of the authors of the childhood obesity-BPA study, told ABC News, “Our study can’t identify obesity as being caused by BPA. But in the context of increasing evidence from experimental studies, it raises further concern.”
The U.S. FDA banned use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups this year, despite remaining uncertainty about the chemical’s possible toxicity. Additionally, Walmart and other stores have removed all BPA-containing products from their shelves.
The extent to which BPA affects human health is the subject of ongoing scientific research in many countries — and it’s sure to be a topic of ongoing debate as well.
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