Canada is expected this week to become the first country to ban a potentially toxic chemical used in packaging, known as bisphenol A (BPA), while a US government report for the first time linked the substance with cancer. BPA is found in the liners of cans, in hard plastic containers and infant formula packaging. The Toronto Globe and Mail Reports:
Major retailers across the country yesterday began clearing their shelves of products made with a compound that Health Canada is expected to declare a potentially dangerous chemical as early as today.
Canada's imminent action contrasts with the US government, which until now seen little risk from the substance. But a report by the National Toxicology Program acknowledged for the first time that the chemical, detected in the urine of 93 percent of the population over 6 years of age, may be linked with cancer and other diseases. Advocacy groups such as EWG have been warning about the substance, but companies such as Nalgene - the water bottle maker - insist it is safe. The Globe writes:
Governments are reviewing the safety of BPA because its molecular shape is similar to estrogen, which allows it to mimic the female hormone in living things. It is also biologically active at extremely low concentrations, just like natural hormones, leading to concerns that the tiny amounts leaching from food and beverage containers could be a health threat.
Dozens of studies by independent researchers have linked low exposure to BPA in animal and test-tube experiments to illnesses, such as cancer, that are thought to have an origin in hormone imbalances, although industry-funded studies haven't been able to find the same effects.