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Bisphenol A (BPA) has been used for over 40 years and has various applications, including food and water contact materials. Risk assessments by health and safety agencies (in particular the FDA in the US and EFSA in Europe in 2008) and based on the available scientific data, have concluded that there is no risk to the consumer under current conditions of use.

The existence of new studies and recent international scientific publications on BPA prompted AFSSA to file an internal request in October 2009; it asked its scientific panels to carefully examine the new material and to request a summary on the subject from the
Réseau Environnement Santé.

Based on this expert appraisal, AFSSA concluded that the methodology of the studies performed made it impossible to formally interpret their data, calling into question the previous assessments of the health risks of BPA.

However, certain subtle effects, especially behavioural effects observed in rat pups following exposure
in utero and during the first months of life, have led the Agency to pursue its expert assessment in conjunction with EFSA and the international network of health agencies, with a view to ascertaining the significance for human health of these warning signs, as well as to inform consumers and to enable public authorities to take appropriate action.

In the meantime, AFSSA recommends:

- collecting data in France on the presence of bisphenol A in breast milk, infants and infant formula. It also recommends investigating sources of exposure to bisphenol A other than food contact materials (household dust, water, contact with polycarbonate objects);

- rapidly developing a methodology suited to detecting potential toxicity in humans of very low doses of BPA in addition to substitution products and endocrine disruptors in general; AFSSA aims to bring this issue up to the European level, since it is an essential first step toward the intelligent reduction of exposure to BPA.

AFSSA also reminds consumers that a simple precautionary measure is to avoid heating liquid foods (water, milk, soups, etc.) to very high temperatures when using baby bottles or containers made of polycarbonate.

The warning signs observed with regard to BPA raise the more global question of the assessment of endocrine disruptors, a domain which falls within the joint competency of INSERM and several agencies, including AFSSA and AFSSET in particular. In light of the current Request conducted by AFSSET on endocrine disruptors and the upcoming merger of the two agencies, the pooling of both agencies' work will clearly serve to reinforce the work programme on this topic. A progress report presentation will be organised by the end of the year, open to the scientific community, stakeholders and various other health and safety agencies, including the BfR (German health and safety agency).

Find out more

>Opinion of 29 January 2010 on the critical analysis of the results of a study of the toxicity of bisphenol A on the development of the nervous system together with other recently-published data on its toxic effects
>Memorandum of 7 July 2009 regarding the publication by Stahlhut et al. (2009) on urinary elimination of bisphenol A in humans
>Opinion of 21 November 2008 regarding the exposure assessment of bisphenol A in water intended for human consumption and possible resulting health risks
>Opinion of 24 October 2008 regarding bisphenol A in polycarbonate baby bottles likely to be heated in a microwave ovens

Bisphenol A: AFSSA recommends the development of new assessment methods
5 February 2010
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