Foundation for versatile plastic
Polycarbonate and BPA as its component have been used safely for more than 50 years. BPA is one of the most thoroughly examined chemicals. It has been subjected to intensive studies and thorough safety assessments by government agencies around the world, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In January 2015, EFSA published a comprehensive re-evaluation of BPA, stating that “BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group (including unborn children, infants and adolescents) at current exposure levels.” (European Food Safety Authority)
In addition, the FDA in the USA is unequivocal in its conclusion on the safety of BPA, stating “Is BPA safe? Yes. Based on FDA’s ongoing safety review of scientific evidence, the available information continues to support the safety of BPA for the currently approved uses in food containers and packaging.” (United States Food and Drug Administration)
As with other materials, there is some potential for extremely small amounts of BPA to migrate from the material to its surrounding, for example from packaging to food. But if this were to happen, numerous studies show that the quantities are far below any safety-based limits set by relevant government bodies. The low – thus safe – consumer exposure has been reconfirmed just recently by the EFSA. For the first time, this scientific expert panel which performs thorough risk assessments for food-related topics even reviewed non-dietary exposure of consumers in addition to dietary exposure and concluded that the aggregated exposure is also below the newly set safety limit (the TDI, or Tolerable Daily Intake) of 4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day.
To put the safety limit in perspective: A person weighing 60 kilograms would have to drink at least 300 liters of water stored in polycarbonate water containers each day for their whole life before reaching the safe limit established by the European Food Safety Authority.
Based on numerous scientifically valid and high-quality studies, Covestro is confident that BPA can be safely used in its intended areas of application. In the case, for example, of food safety, this is supported by the latest evaluations from the responsible European and American authorities, namely the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Reflecting this conviction, Covestro is working actively within the framework of regulatory processes to dispel uncertainties and answer open questions.
Questions and answers on Bisphenol A
Bisphenol A, also commonly referred to as BPA, is an organic chemical which is the essential basic building block (intermediate) for high performance polymer plastics and coatings, mainly polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins.
How does Covestro use BPA?
At Covestro, Bisphenol A is mainly used as an intermediate to create polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate plastic is often selected because of its unique combination of properties, such as clarity, durability, light weight, mechanical strength and its heat resistance, which are essential for many applications.
End-user applications of BPA-based polycarbonate plastic are numerous and diverse, ranging from DVDs, housings of computers and home appliances, to spectacles and optical lenses, reusable water bottles, food storage containers, medical equipment, construction materials and many more.
What is the position of Covestro on safety of BPA with respect to consumers?
As a leader in the chemical industry initiative Responsible Care®, Covestro takes any concerns about its products very seriously and closely follows scientific discussions on BPA. The chemical has been widely studied and used for decades. Regulatory agencies and expert panels around the world, many with specific responsibility and scientific expertise for evaluating the safety of materials used in food contact applications, have determined that BPA is safe when used as an intermediate for polycarbonate plastic food contact applications.
Given the numerous full term comprehensive guideline studies consistently attesting to the safety of BPA, the assessments made by regulatory authorities in the European Union, the United States, Australia and Japan, and the extensive knowledge and expertise of our own scientists, Covestro is of the firm belief that there is currently no reasonable scientific basis for any health or safety concerns concerning the use of polycarbonate in intended consumer applications.
Are there alternatives to BPA in polycarbonates?
BPA-based polycarbonate offers a unique combination of technical properties like clarity, durability, light weight, mechanical strength and heat resistance which are critical for many of its applications. A polycarbonate with a different building block than BPA would be another material with a completely different property profile and would not possess these qualities.
This reflects that the monomer BPA serves as an intermediate (not as an additive); it is the basic building block to produce polycarbonate. During polymerization the BPA molecules are firmly bound in the polymeric structure of the plastic polycarbonate.
What is Covestro doing to ensure the safety of polycarbonate products?
As Covestro, we are committed to being a leader in product stewardship and sustainable development practices. Our goal is to ensure that our products are handled both safely and with concern for the environment at every stage of the products’ life cycles.
We are achieving this goal through our expertise in producing and handling chemicals safely, and we are developing and handling BPA-based polycarbonate under the core principles and commitments of the chemical industry’s Responsible Care® Global Charter.
Our experts are also closely following all new scientific developments with respect to BPA. Scientific assessments from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and other regulatory organizations around the globe consistently reinforce that BPA and polycarbonate plastics are safe at current levels of exposure and for their intended uses.
In particular, we as well as the industry associations to which we belong will continue to actively engage with the public, government agencies, customers, and other important stakeholders on the topic of BPA to contribute to a fair and open discourse.
Further information is available at the websites of PlasticsEurope and the American Chemistry Council.