Most of the toxic bisphenol A contained in products Canadians use every day is either destroyed or winds up in landfills, says a new study for Environment Canada.
The finding helps to allay concerns that BPA, which mimics the hormone estrogen, persists for long periods in the environment — but critics say the study should not stall efforts to eliminate the chemical altogether.
“A large portion of the BPA that is estimated consumed in Canada is actually reacted/destroyed during its service life,” says the $44,000 research report by Cheminfo Services Inc.
The study suggests between 44 per cent and 68 per cent of the BPA consumed in Canada in 2010 was destroyed in the use of products, such as the epoxy coatings often used to line the inside of food cans.
Another 24 per cent to 43 per cent went into landfills, while less than 14 per cent was released, recycled, incinerated or found its way into sludge.
The preliminary review of 12 Canadian sectors that use BPA, dated March 26 this year, was obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
The Harper government has been a global leader in efforts to limit exposure to BPA, banning the chemical from polycarbonate baby bottles in 2008 after studies demonstrated some leaching into the fluid. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued its own baby-bottle BPA ban only last month.
And in late 2010, the substance was added to an official list of toxic substances in Canada. Environment Canada since April this year has also required key industries to develop mitigation plans to reduce the amount of BPA they release into the environment.
The Cheminfo study cautions that more study is needed to verify the initial research, which focused on a range of products in the Canadian marketplace, including brake fluids, tires and cleaning products.
The findings won praise from Environmental Defence, a Toronto-based nonprofit group, which has been pressing government and industry to eventually eliminate use of all BPA.