A state scientific panel has identified the plastic softening chemical… (David McNew / Getty Images )
California's environmental science agency has added the controversial plastics-softening chemical, bisphenol A, to its official list of chemicals known to cause birth defects.
The decision was announced late Thursday by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The agency based its finding on a report by "an authoritative body," the National Toxicology Program, that the compound commonly known as BPA "causes reproductive toxicity...at high doses."
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The listing, authorized under a 1986 law, Proposition 65, requires that manufacturers of goods containing BPA, such as water bottles, provide warnings or reformulate their products.
Environmentalists immediately praised the agency's decision. The plastics industry criticized it and vowed to pursue a lawsuit against the administration of Gov. Jerry Brown.
"This is a public health victory that has been a long time coming. After years of delay, California has moved quickly in just a few months to finalize this listing," wrote Sarah Janssen, a senior scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in a blog posting.
BPA has been connected with birth defects, altered brain development, behavioral changes, cancer and cardiovascular disease, Janssen said.
On Friday, the chemical industry shot back, accusing the state agency of using administrative proceedings to rush a Proposition 65 listing decision.
"The state is ignoring its own panel of scientific experts, which completely undermines the scientific review process that citizens and businesses have relied upon for many years," said a statement from the American Chemistry Council in Washington, D.C.
Plastics containing BPA are durable, clear and shatter-resistant, the council said. BPA in can liners helps keep packaged food from spoiling, it said.
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