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Bisphenol A

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 15th October 2012.

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Photo of Annette Brooke Annette Brooke Liberal Democrat, Mid Dorset and North Poole

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health on cross-departmental discussions assessing the cancer risk of environmental exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals such as Bisphenol A.

Photo of David Heath David Heath The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

There is an active network of officials across UK Government who keep each other appraised of developments in the regulation of Bisphenol-A (BPA) specifically and endocrine disruption more generally. This group is also engaged at EU level.

It is well established that BPA can disrupt the endocrine (hormone) system, but only extremely weakly. A recent, well designed study found no adverse effects in rats exposed to levels 4,000 times higher than the maximum exposure of human adults in the general population.

BPA has been found not to produce significant carcinogenic responses in rats and mice. Further reassurance arises from BPA's tack of mutagenicity in relevant animal studies; substances that otherwise produce positive results in such tests are generally viewed as a carcinogenic threat to humans.

In 2006, the European Food Standards Agency (EFSA) assessed the health impact of BPA and established a Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI), which is the amount that can be eaten every day, over a whole lifetime, without causing appreciable harm. The TDI is well above general levels of human consumption. A further Opinion by EFSA on BPA was published on 30 September 2010 and took into account more recent studies on possible BPA enhancement of breast cancer, but concluded that the existing TDI did not require adjustment.

In the light of the EFSA assessment, we do not propose to limit further the use of BPA in non-food applications beyond current levels, which have been set following already rigorous risk assessment.

BPA is registered under the EU REACH (registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals) regulation. According to REACH provisions, the German competent authority is already evaluating its registration with a view to deciding whether any more information or regulatory action is needed. We should know more about the outcome of this process early next year. While there is currently no reason to believe that robust evidence will arise requiring further controls on BPA, we remain alert to any evidence derived from this or other sources.

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