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“Alternatives for BPA are equally harmful” 

Amsterdam, 30 March 2018 – The plastics industry is a massive user of bisphenol A (BPA). This is a chemical compound that is used in many plastic products such as plastic bottles, electronics, receipts and toys. As BPA affects the hormone balance and can cause infertility, in 2016 the Dutch government decreed that exposure to BPA must be reduced. The government also announced that it would make efforts to ensure that producers develop safer alternatives.

We are now two years down the line and the question arises what the producers have been doing.

In 2016, the European Union classified BPA as a toxic substance and put it on the European Chemicals Agency’s list of substances of very high concern. This was a unanimous decision by scientists of all member states. This was the reason for PlasticsEurope, the lobby organisation representing the European plastics industry, to challenge the European Union in court to remove BPA from the list. They claimed that measure would be ‘fundamentally disproportionate’, and this, speculates an EUobserver message, is a delaying tactic. While the issue is being battled in court, BPA can stay on the market and the alternatives will not be used.

In the meantime, alternatives have been launched on the market. Many consumers have become used to labels praising products as ‘BPA free’. However, producers appear to mostly use alternatives that strongly resemble BPA. These are mostly bisphenol S (BPS), bisphenol F (BPF) and bisphenol HPF (BHPF). Chem Trust, whose mission is to protect humans and animals from harmful chemicals, has surveyed the uses and has issued a report containing alarming findings. Among these are that:

  • as alternative bisphenols belong to the same chemical group, it can be expected that they can be equally harmful to health as BPA; and,
  • BPA is found in the blood and urine of almost everybody that has been tested. This is now the case with alternative bisphenols too.
  • In an effort to reduce the use of substances deemed hazardous, the European legislation would be totally ineffective if it would not also apply to alternative bisphenols.

Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation: “It is high time that not only the Dutch Government, but also the European Union sends a strong signal to the industry that it is entirely unacceptable to exchange one problematic substance with another, and to mislead the public into thinking that the products are then safe. Let alone that the industry even dares go to court. It shows a distinct lack of conscience.”