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BPA May Be Labeled 'Toxicant' by State

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By now, many environmentally conscious consumers are wary of bisphenol A, a chemical in food containers, plastic bottles and other household items.

A California state agency is wary, too, and will soon decide whether to call the compound a reproductive toxicant and place restrictions on it. In 2009, when it last took up the matter, a panel of experts said there wasn't enough evidence.

Since then, a flurry of research in the Bay Area and across the nation has made deeper inroads into understanding the role that BPA may play in cardiovascular disease, neurodevelopment, infertility and other health conditions.

Scientists still don't entirely understand BPA, which is believed to be an endocrine disruptor that mimics the hormone estrogen. But dozens of studies published in the last three or so years have brightened the spotlight on a chemical that scientists estimate exists in the bodies of 90 percent of the U.S. population.

"There's a ton of new science that has come out that further supports BPA's being a reproductive and developmental toxicant," said Dr. Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group in San Francisco.

Chemical warnings

The group has petitioned California's Environmental Protection Agency to add BPA to the state's annual list of suspect chemicals under the consumer-safety law Proposition 65.

BPA leaches out of hard plastics, the linings of canned food and beverages, sales receipts and dental sealants. If it makes the list, manufacturers would be required by law to put warning labels on potentially hundreds of products that contain hazardous levels of BPA. Manufacturers that ignore the law could be hit with a flurry of lawsuits.

Chemical industry representatives, who are concerned that manufacturers will stop using BPA, sued the state last month in an attempt to keep the compound off the list. The American Chemistry Council, which did not return a request for comment for this story, argued in the lawsuit that the research cited by state regulators does not prove BPA poses serious health risks.

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