City of San Francisco Repeals Ban on
Bisphenol A in Children's Products
May 29, 2007
On May 29, the City of San Francisco repealed its ban on toys and child care articles made with or containing any level of bisphenol A
. The ban was part of an ordinance passed in June 2006 that, although never enforced, would have eliminated from San Francisco a wide array of consumer products made from polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins, many of which are designed to enhance the health and safety of children. The repeal brings San Francisco in line with government bodies around the world that have evaluated the scientific evidence supporting the safety of bisphenol A and, based on these evaluations, concluded that no ban or restriction on bisphenol A is justified. Consumer products made from polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins are accepted as safe for use around the world, and once again in the City of San Francisco.
Do the Amendments Remove the City of San Francisco’s Ban on Bisphenol A?
Yes, here is what happened. In June 2006 the City of San Francisco passed an ordinance that banned toys and child care articles intended for use by children under the age of three years if those products were made with or contain any level of bisphenol A. Although never enforced, the ordinance potentially would have eliminated from San Francisco a wide range of products, many of which have been designed to enhance the health and safety of children.
For example, polycarbonate plastic is used to make shatter-resistant bottles and food storage containers, CDs and DVDs, components of life-saving medical devices, incubator domes, lightweight and virtually unbreakable corrective eyeglass lenses, and sports safety equipment such as bicycle helmets. Epoxy resin coatings on the interior surface of metal food and beverage cans provide an essential public health benefit by preventing corrosion of the can and contamination of food.
Earlier this year the ban was reconsidered and on April 17 the Board of Supervisors, which is the city’s legislative body, voted unanimously to amend the ordinance to repeal the ban. On April 27 the repeal was enacted when it was signed by the mayor of San Francisco, and on May 29 the repeal went into effect.
Is San Francisco Consistent with the Rest of the World?
When the ordinance was originally passed in 2006, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors did not solicit input from affected parties, in particular scientific input, and there is no indication that the science had been reviewed. After their reconsideration, the Board of Supervisors now knows that the scientific evidence supporting the safety of bisphenol A has been carefully examined by government and scientific bodies around the world.
In every case, these assessments support the conclusion that bisphenol A is not a risk to human health from its use in consumer products. None of the government bodies that have reviewed the scientific evidence have banned or restricted bisphenol A. Consumer products made from polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins are accepted as safe for use around the world, and once again in the City of San Francisco.
Key examples of recent bisphenol A assessments include:
- The European Food Safety Authority evaluation conducted by a panel of 21 independent scientific experts drawn from throughout the EU (2007). 1
- An expert scientific panel weight-of-the-evidence evaluation of low-dose reproductive and developmental effects of bisphenol A (2006). 2
- A comprehensive risk assessment conducted by the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (2005). 3
- The Japanese Ministry of Environment, which conducted their own low-dose research on bisphenol A (2005). 4
- A weight-of-evidence evaluation of low-dose reproductive and developmental effects of bisphenol A conducted by a panel of scientific experts organized by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis (2004). 5
- A comprehensive European Union (EU) risk assessment (2003). 6
- An independent assessment of the EU risk assessment by the Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment (2002). 7
- A detailed assessment of bisphenol A focused on food contact applications by the EU Scientific Committee on Food (2002). 8
- A scientific panel evaluation of low-dose effects from bisphenol A organized by the US National Toxicology Program (2001). 9
2 Goodman, J. E., McConnell, E. E., Sipes, I. G., Witorsch, R. J., Slayton, T. M., Yu, C. J., Lewis, A. S., and Rhomberg, L. R. 2006. An Updated Weight of the Evidence Evaluation of Reproductive and Developmental Effects of Low Doses of Bisphenol A. Critical Reviews in Toxicology. 36:387-457. For a summary of this study, see http://www.gradientcorp.com/coinfo/RiskBull.html.
5 Gray, G. M., Cohen, J. T., Cunha, G., Hughes, C., McConnell, E. E., Rhomberg, L., Sipes, I. G., and Mattison, D. 2004. Weight of the evidence evaluation of low-dose reproductive and developmental effects of bisphenol A. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment. 10:875-921. For a description of this study and a link to the full paper, see http://www.bisphenol-a.org/whatsNew/20040903Harvard.html. For information on a new weight of evidence evaluation, see http://www.bisphenol-a.org/whatsNew/20060619.html.
9 National Toxicology Program's Report of the Endocrine Disruptors Low Dose Peer Review, August 2001, available on the internet at http://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/go/14446.