EFSA consults on hormone-affecting chemical Bisphenol A

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The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has invited the public to make online comments about its draft assessment of the chemical compound Bisphenol A (BPA), which is widely suspected by scientists of disrupting the hormone system.

Interested parties such as national risk assessment bodies have until 13 March 2014 to comment on EFSA's review and risk assessments of BPA. The public consultation will be followed up with a stakeholder meeting.

EFSA expects to complete an assessment of BPA in a new opinion to be published later in 2014.

BPA is a chemical compound used in food contact materials such as packaging and other consumer products. In 2011, the EU banned BPA in baby bottles over concern that "BPA might have an effect on development, immune response and tumour promotion".

EFSA has currently reviewed over 450 studies related to the health risks of exposure to BPA, concluding that BPA is likely to adversely affect the kidney and liver, but EFSA also considers that BPA could potentially affect the cardiovascular, immune, reproductive, nervous and metabolic systems, as well as having an effect in the development of cancer.

EFSA experts also recommend that the tolerable daily intake (TDI) of BPA should be lowered to 0.005 mg per day from 0.05 mg per day.

"The risk assessment of BPA has been hugely complex. EFSA concludes there is an estimated safe level of exposure to BPA – known as the TDI – but has reduced this and set it on a temporary basis because of continuing uncertainties over the risks posed by the chemical," said Iona Pratt, chair of EFSA's panel on Food Contact Materials, Enzymes, Flavourings and Processing Aids.

In the spring of 2013, EFSA also consulted the public online before completing an opinion on the food additive aspartame, in order to show a commitment to transparency and openness.

The endocrine system is a network of glands which regulates and controls the release and levels of hormones in the body.

Hormones are chemical messengers that are essential for the body to carry out functions such as metabolism, growth and development, sleep and mood. Only a tiny amount of hormone may be needed to trigger the intended action.

The endocrine system is complex and the interactions within this system which regulate hormonal release are dependent on a variety of biological and psychological factors.

Scientific knowledge of this system is still growing.

Imbalances and malfunctions of the endocrine system can result in well-known diseases such as diabetes and obesity, infertility and certain types of cancer.

Also, disruption of the endocrine system can cause birth defects and learning disabilities.

  • 13 March 2014: Deadline to comment online on EFSA's public consultation's document.
  • 2018: Next and last REACH registration deadline.

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