German EPA calls for controls on bisphenol-A

Statement by scientific workshop chairman sparks anger amongst chemical firms

A senior German environment agency (UBA) official has called for use of the plastics additive bisphenol-A (BPA) to be stopped as a precautionary measure, sparking anger amongst chemical firms, which claim the substance is safe.

UBA expert Andreas Gies was speaking as chairman of a scientific workshop in Berlin organised to discuss scientific research into BPA and identify future research needs. "It is unacceptable to use scientific uncertainty over the assessment [of BPA] as justification for a lack of protective measures", he said.

BPA is an oestrogen mimic, but there is no agreement on whether it poses real endocrine disruption risks to humans or wildlife, leading to regular clashes between chemical firms (ENDS Daily 16 October 1998) and environmental groups (ENDS Daily 30 May).

Dr Gies said that several studies had shown that BPA exposure below the "no observed effect level" (NOEL) had caused hormonal effects on amphibians and molluscs. "If these results are confirmed," he said, "effects on animals in the wild could be expected with concentrations that exist in the environment....This would have consequences for the whole test strategy used to evaluate the environmental and health effects of materials".

European chemical industry association Cefic hit back at Dr Gies' comments today, saying that they were "in direct opposition to the announced intent of the workshop" and were "unrelated" to any of its conclusions. Dr Gies had disputed this in his statement, in which he said the conference had been organised to "advise authorities in their decision-making [about] the basis for risk assessment of BPA".

Follow Up:
German environment agency, tel: +49 30 89031. Cefic, tel: +32 2 676 7247; Bisphenol-A industry website with workshop programme.

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