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anses

French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety

Bisphenol A: ANSES issues a call for contributions on substitute products to reduce exposure of the most susceptible populations

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News of 26/09/2011

27 septembre 2011

As part of its assessment of the risks associated with bisphenol A, ANSES is today publishing two reports: one on the health effects of bisphenol A and the other on its uses. This work highlights health effects that have been proven in animals and suspected in humans, even at low levels of exposure. These effects may also depend greatly on individuals being exposed during different phases of their development, which means that it may be possible to identify categories of people who are particularly vulnerable to bisphenol A. This work is one step in a continuing risk assessment process. The Agency considers, however, that it now has enough scientific evidence to be able to identify that the priority should be to prevent exposure of the most susceptible populations, such as infants, young children, and pregnant and breastfeeding women. This objective entails reducing exposure to bisphenol A, mainly by replacing it in the food contact materials that are the main source of exposure of these populations. In this context, the Agency is submitting the findings of its work for consultation and is issuing a call for contributions in order to collect, by the end of November 2011, any relevant scientific data concerning, in particular, the available substitutes and their safety and effectiveness.

ANSES's work falls within the scope of solicited requests from the authorities, dating from 2009 and 2010, on endocrine disruptors, including bisphenol A. The first stage of this expert appraisal consisted in identifying the various uses of bisphenol A while at the same time characterising all of its health effects. The reports published today are the tangible results of this first phase.
Based on an analysis of all the available scientific literature, the ANSES expert group found that there were proven effects in animals (effects on reproduction, effects on the mammary gland, effects on metabolism, the brain and behaviour) and other suspected effects in humans (effects on reproduction, the metabolism of sugars and fats, and cardiovascular diseases). These effects were demonstrated at doses that were significantly lower than the reference doses used for regulatory purposes, especially during certain periods of life characterised by susceptibility to the effects of bisphenol A (pregnancy, pre- and post-natal periods).

Concerning uses of the substance, ANSES Notes that a very wide range of industry sectors have reported that they use bisphenol A. The manufacturing of polycarbonate plastic accounts for a large proportion of the applications, whereas another important share comes from the synthesis of epoxy resins, which are often used in food contact materials.

The Agency is continuing to assess human dietary and environmental exposure and to characterise the health risks of bisphenol A and the risks associated with other potential endocrine disruptors. On account of the complexity and scope of the questions raised, this expert appraisal work is a long-term undertaking. Nevertheless, ANSES considers that it now has enough scientific evidence to confirm that the primary objective should be to reduce exposure of the most susceptible populations to bisphenol A. This objective requires that alternative substances or technologies whose safety has been demonstrated, be substituted for bisphenol A in items intended for these vulnerable populations (food contact materials, toys, childcare items, etc.).

In this context and in parallel with its ongoing investigations, the Agency has issued a call for contributions to first get feedback on the content and consequences of its work and secondly, to collect any scientific data, especially concerning the available substitutes, as well as data on their safety and effectiveness. This call for contributions runs until 30 November 2011, and the information it yields will be made public and analysed in detail by the Agency when drafting its recommendations, to be published in early 2012.

At the same time, the Agency has reiterated its 2010 recommendation, intended as a preventive measure, to provide the public with clear information in the form of systematic labelling of household utensils in contact with food and containing bisphenol A, that may lead to exposure.
Finally, the Agency will also communicate the results of this initial work on the health effects of bisphenol A to the relevant European authorities (EFSA, ECHA, etc.), to enable them to examine the relevance of a review of the reference doses used for regulatory purposes.

Find out more

> The reports (in french, english available soon)

> Press kit “Presentation of reports on the health effects and uses of bisphenol A”:

  • ANSES and bisphenol A
  • Bisphenol A, what is it used for?
  • Endocrine disruptors
  • ANSES, a new player in health and safety

> call for contributions