Whether or not they say it's down to consumer concerns, companies are beginning to phase out a chemical for which there is substantial evidence of a hazard to human health, particularly for the infant and foetus. At least people will soon have a choice about whether or not they buy BPA-free food and, if they judge themselves to be at risk, take steps to reduce their exposure to BPA. However, not all companies are hurrying to eliminate BPA. Natural phase-out of BPA is unlikely to be complete, will not fully protect the public from BPA soon enough, and lower socioeconomic groups are likely to be the most exposed while this process takes place.
Governments should ban materials such as BPA when there is a weight of evidence indicating they are hazardous to health. In cases where there is uncertainty, governments should at least highlight which chemicals are causing concern and make the public aware of where they are used.
Alternatives to BPA are on the verge of general availability. Regulatory agencies should now be setting deadlines for eliminating BPA at least from food contact materials.
Paul Whaley is communications manager, Cancer Prevention and Education Society