What Would Happen If BisPhenol A (BPA) Were Phased Out Tomorrow?

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Triumph motorcycle, polycarbonate tank badge. Image credit:HellForLeatherMagazine

What to do about the possibility of a proposed government mandated phase out of BPA in certain applications is a question several industries now face. According to the Washington Post's Strategy Being Devised To Protect Use of BPA, a food packaging and chemical industry "brainstorming" meeting was held to consider how to respond to a prospective phaseout of BPA applications where human exposure can reasonably be expected. What do you think would happen if a BPA phase out or ban were required? Read on for details.Polycarbonate water bottles and baby bottles have become the "poster children" of activists seeking a rapid phase out of the use of Bis-Phenol A based plastics (polycarbonate) and coatings (epoxies). Lets expand the question and examine which every-day objects would have to be designed differently if US EPA, in collaboration with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), decided to limit risky applications of BPA-based polymers and coatings.

Partial list of BPA applications that would not likely be affected by a ban.

  • Windscreens or windshields
  • Automotive headlamp lenses
  • Bullet resistant security glass in airports, banks, limos, etc.
  • Clerestories & Other Daylighting Projects
  • Compact discs, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs
  • Computers shells such as: Apple's MacBook, and Mac mini
  • Domelights, flat or curved glazing, and sound walls
  • Glazing in atriums, breezeways, pergolas
  • Instrument panels
  • Lab equipment and enclosures.
  • Medical devices of many types
  • MP3/Digital audio player cases
  • Plastic eyeglass lenses.
  • Safety glasses.
  • Signs, displays, poster protection
  • Storm Panels
  • Traffic signals
  • Window Walls

As you can readily imagine from scanning the above applications list, some of which have strong usage in the Green Building industry, there would be plenty of supply chains left for chemical companies to sell BPA into, even if baby bottles, water bottles, and the various can lining epoxy markets disappeared.

Who chews Mac shells by the sea shore?
Obviously, nobody chews on their MacBook, traffic lights or compact discs - or anything else in the preceding list, for that matter. The key to understanding the controversy is that brand image and products liability are potentially involved with the few applications that get the attention.

Can linings all over the world are based on BPA epoxies. I personally seldom eat canned food, and thus am not too worried about an occasional and infinitesimally small BPA exposure I get via that route. Please take a moment to read the following excerpt from an online industry source:- Epoxy Resin Can Coatings and Bisphenol A Safety Information, and see if you agree with my assessment.

Metal food and beverage cans have a thin coating on the interior surface, which is essential to prevent corrosion of the can and contamination of food and beverages with dissolved metals (UK FSA, 2002). In addition, the coating helps to prevent canned foods from becoming tainted or spoiled by bacterial contamination. The major types of interior can coating are made from epoxy resins, which have achieved wide acceptance for use as protective coatings because of their exceptional combination of toughness, adhesion, formability and chemical resistance. Such coatings are essentially inert and have been used safely for over 40 years. In addition to protecting contents from spoilage, these coatings make it possible for food products to maintain their quality and taste, while extending shelf life.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a key building block of epoxy resins. In 1995, Brotons and coworkers reported that BPA could migrate from can coatings during the food canning process. Later that same year, the Society of the Plastics Industry, Inc. (SPI), initiated a study to quantify the migration of BPA from can coatings.

Based on the results of the SPI study, the estimated dietary intake of BPA from can coatings is less than 0.00011 milligrams per kilogram body weight per day. This level is more than 450 times lower than the maximum acceptable or "reference" dose for BPA of 0.05 milligrams per kilogram body weight per day established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Worth keeping in mind, as you think this through, that baby food is generally sold in jars. Baby formula in cans is still out there as an issue, and probably deserves to be treated separately.

Overall, there are both hazards and safety benefits of the existing coating systems that need to be looked at in balance. That's EPA's and FDA's work, going forward.

Where do bloggers and blog readers fit in the BPA regulatory process that is only just beginning? California, amidst a budgetary Armageddon, is hardly in a position to lead the way.

If you live in the US, commenting on an EPA or FDA Federal Register regulatory "docket;"; and, of course, contacting your Congressmen and Senators directly, are more constructive actions, at this point, than looking for the next hazard hyperbole to fall from the endless skies of the Internets.

Polish your headlights; then take swig from your Sigg. The issue is moving forward.

More BPA posts.
Wal-Mart Dumps BPA Bottles; More Studies Pan BPA
BPA Danger may be greater from Tin Cans than Water Bottles ...
Don't Buy A Nalgene Water Bottle Until You Read This
Canada Calls Bisphenol A "Dangerous"
Are Sigg Aluminum Bottles BPA Free?

What Would Happen If BisPhenol A (BPA) Were Phased Out Tomorrow?
What to do about the possibility of a proposed government mandated phase out of BPA in certain applications is a question several industries now face. According to the

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