Environment Canada has published a final order adding bisphenol A (BPA) to Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA 1999), a move that will make it easier for agencies to regulate the substance. “The Government of Canada has a strong record of taking action on Bisphenol A to protect the environment and health of Canadians,” stated Environment Minister Jim Prentice in an October 13, 2010, press release. “We are continuing our leadership on this issue and Canadians can rest assured that we are working hard to monitor and manage Bisphenol A.”

Claiming that BPA exposure “can result from dietary intake, environmental media, use of consumer products, and other sources,” the final order adopts “a precautionary approach” based on animal and human studies that allegedly showed the potential for neurobehavioral and developmental effects in newborns and infants. The order also notes environmental concerns, citing evidence “that exposure to bisphenol A, particularly at sensitive life cycle stages, may lead to permanent alterations in hormonal, developmental or reproductive capacity for aquatic organisms.”

According to Environment Canada’s director general of science and risk assessment, the new designation for BPA signals the government’s readiness to act. George Enei apparently told media outlets that the first steps would likely involve regulating factories that release BPA into the air and water. Rick Smith, executive director of Canadian advocacy organization Environmental Defence, reportedly concurred, “This toxic designation is a very strong regulatory power that gives them firm legal footing on any number of things.”

Meanwhile, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) has refuted the science behind the final order, which came on the heels of the European Food Safety Authority’s decision not to readjust its BPA assessment in light of recent findings. “Environment Canada’s announcement is contrary to the weight of worldwide scientific evidence, unwarranted and will unnecessarily confuse and alarm the public,” ACC Executive Director Steven Hentges was quoted as saying. See The New York Times, October 13, 2010.