On 16 June, the Member State Committee of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) decided to identify bisphenol A (BPA) as a substance of very high concern, in a move designed to encourage manufacturers to slash their use of this hormone-mimicking chemical.

The decision was adopted unanimously by the EU Member States in response to a French proposal, with France itself having banned the use of BPA in the manufacture of food containers as of 1 January 2015.

Although this latest decision does not prohibit the use of BPA in the European Union, manufacturers who wish to continue using this endocrine-disrupting substance will find it much more difficult to do so since they will have to apply to ECHA for authorisation under the EU’s REACH Regulation. This is an expensive procedure because the European authorities issue only limited-duration authorisations for substances which pose a risk to human health, with the aim of discouraging their use by manufacturers.

The decision has been welcomed by Tony Musu, ETUI researcher and expert on chemical risks: ‘The quasi-ubiquitous use of BPA in industry means that this is a key victory for the millions of workers in Europe who are exposed to the substance as part of their jobs. Let us hope that manufacturers will now look for BPA replacements which pose less of a health risk to their employees and the users of their products.’

The ECHA Member State Committee has also identified perfluorohexane-1-sulphonic acid and its salts as very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB).

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