RIVM: BPA exposure should be reduced

By Joseph James Whitworth contact

- Last updated on GMT

RIVM recommends more stringent BPA standards

Related tags: Bisphenol a

European standards for Bisphenol A (BPA) exposure should be revisited, according to the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM).

RIVM said new insights warrant consideration of standards and recommended the government take measures in the near future to further reduce exposure.

It said a reduction in exposure could be by developing safe alternatives or ensuring that less BPA is released from products and workers are protected.

RIVM recommended the European Commission ask SCOEL to revisit the Occupational Exposure Limit (OEL), and the ECHA re-open the evaluation of the health hazards and exposure limit values, taking into account the recent data on the effects of BPA on the immune system.

However, the agency also said there is no health concern for consumers for BPA at the levels of dietary exposure estimated by EFSA in 2015.

The European Commission published a ‘road map’ in November proposing options for increasing controls in food contact materials and are working on a draft measure based on option three - to modify legislative restrictions and introduce measures in coatings and varnishes at EU level.

Basis of findings

BPA is used in some plastic food packaging material and as a base for epoxy-coatings and adhesives.

The report is part two of a report into the substance, part one was published in 2014​.

RIVM said animal studies show that BPA can impair the immune system of unborn and young children at a lower exposure level than the one on which current standards are based.

“This lower level is roughly comparable to the current every day BPA exposure level of workers and consumers.

“As a result of this exposure during pregnancy and at a young age, children could have a greater probability of developing food intolerances and could become more susceptible to infectious diseases.”

Following the approach used by EFSA to derive the t-TDI, RIVM said some effects are observed in test animals at a human equivalent dose (HED) that may be more than a factor of 10 lower than the HED on which EFSA based its t-TDI of 4 μg/kg bw/d.

The move appears to be mostly based on two studies by Menard et al one here​ and the other here​.

RIVM also identified an occupational health risk from inhalation of BPA for workers involved in the manufacture of it for product sampling and bag filling and possibly for workers in the manufacture of epoxy resins.

"This important new report confirms our long standing call for more EU and national action to greatly decrease our everyday exposure to BPA. The European Commission’s proposal on BPA in food contact materials is definitely not nearly enough to protect our health​,” said Lisette van Vliet, senior policy advisor at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

Possible alternatives

RIVM said for polycarbonate plastics, alternatives that seem promising based on the limited information available are at drop-in level: diphenolic acid (and derivatives); and PE, PP or PLA as material substitutes for food contact materials.

For epoxy resins, alternatives at drop-in level are diphenolic acid (and derivatives) and lauryl gallate (or other gallic acid derivatives).

In terms of material substitutes for food contact materials: isosorbide-based resins, polyacrylates or oleoresin (toxicological information on the monomer and additives is too limited to draw firm conclusions), aseptic cartons and glass.

“The RIVM concludes that there are several alternatives to BPA, among them drop-in substances, material substitutes and non-chemical alternatives. For most chemical substitutes, hazard information is lacking, while the use of BPA analogues seems unsuitable on the basis that they have comparable hazard profiles to BPA.”

Related topics: Food Safety & Quality

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