EU court confirms BPA as substance of ‘very high concern’

The General Court of the European Union confirmed this week that bisphenol A (BPA) – a chemical additive in plastics and thermal paper receipts – must be listed as a substance of 'very high concern' given its toxicity for human reproduction.


The Court upheld a decision by the European Chemicals Agency, or ECHA, to identify the substance, which has been used in the manufacture of plastic products such as water bottles, food containers and receipts. BPA is already banned in the EU for some products – such as baby bottles – due to concerns about its effects on the hormonal and reproductive systems.

ECHA is the driving force among European regulatory authorities for implementing chemicals legislation for the benefit of human health and the environment. One of ECHA's tasks is to identify and list substances of very high concern—substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic, toxic to reproduction, persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic, very persistent and bioaccumulative, or that give rise to a similar level of concern.

Once listed, compounds could become subject to further regulation and restrictions.

"This case was not about whether bisphenol A is toxic for reproduction or not – there is no doubt about the dangers this substance poses for humans and the environment," said Apolline Roger, legal and policy advisor at ClientEarth, which intervened before the Court to support ECHA's decision.

"This case was about industry lobby group PlasticsEurope attempting to fight the obligation of its members that sell or use BPA to tell their supply chain and consumers about its dangers."

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BarbiAnn Maynard drives 45 minutes from her home in Martin County, Kentucky, to a spring at the Mingo-Logan county line in West Virginia to fill containers with fresh water. (Credit: Curren Sheldon/100 Days in Appalachia)
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