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New report: 37 bisphenols may be endocrine disruptors

News 8/31/2017

In a new report, the Swedish Chemicals Agency identifies 37 bisphenols, in addition to Bisphenol A, that may be found on the European market and which may have endocrine disrupting properties. The Agency will monitor how the bisphenols are being used and endeavour to increase knowledge on the substances.

“To prevent potential future risks, it is important to increase knowledge on bisphenols and keep track on how they are being used,” says Helena Dorfh, an investigator at the Swedish Chemicals Agency.

Bisphenol A is a substance that is produced in large volumes and is primarily used to manufacture plastics. The substance is an endocrine disrupter for humans and can affect our reproductive capability. In recent years, new regulations limiting the use of Bisphenol A have been adopted both within the EU and Sweden. For example, the use of Bisphenol A in thermal paper, which is used in products such as cash receipts, will be prohibited throughout Europe as of 2020.

As Bisphenol A is phased out, the substance may be replaced with other bisphenols. Some of these may, as with Bisphenol A, also have endocrine disrupting properties. The Swedish Chemicals Agency has been commissioned by the Government to investigate and, where appropriate, propose measures for bisphenols in Sweden. Today’s report is a presentation by the Agency of the government commission and contains a description of the bisphenols found within Sweden and the EU.

In the report, the Agency identifies a total of over 200 chemical substances that have a chemical structure similar to Bisphenol A and which may be found on the European market. According to results from data simulations, 37 of these substances may have endocrine disrupting properties like those identified for Bisphenol A, and may be used in a manner that could constitute risks for consumers. Six of the substances examined in the report, among them Bisphenol A, have both health-related properties and patterns of use that, according to the assessment of the Swedish Chemicals Agency, could become problematic. These six substances are already under scrutiny within the framework of the EU’s common chemicals legislation, Reach. This means that use of these substances may be regulated at the EU level. For two of the substances, the Swedish Chemicals Agency is the evaluating competent authority.

As the substances are currently being examined within the context of EU legislation, the Swedish Chemicals Agency is not at present proposing any new national regulations limiting the use of bisphenols in Sweden.

“As it stands, we don’t have enough information on how the bisphenols are being used and about their toxicological effects to be able to implement a ban on any of these substances in Sweden. It’s a positive development that work is being done at the EU level to evaluate the need for measures to manage potential risks relating to the six substances we have assessed as priorities,” says Helena Dorfh.

In the report, the Swedish Chemicals Agency determines that there is reason to continue examining the bisphenol class of substance. The Agency has therefore prepared a plan for its continued work with this class of substance. Among others, the Agency will actively disseminate the results from the report to researchers and other government agencies. In addition, the Agency will inform the relevant companies and industries in Sweden of the results and, where necessary, initiate a dialogue with the companies.

Within the framework of the government commission, the Swedish Chemicals Agency has developed a new method that enables the identification and prioritisation of substances that may require action from larger groups of chemical substances. The method is universally applicable and can be used for substances other than bisphenols.

“With the new method of mapping, we have been able to identify bisphenols that may be found on the market. We will now monitor the identified substances so as to be able to act quickly if the patterns of use would change,” says Helena Dorfh.

Read the report: Bisphenols – a survey and and analysis (in Swedish with a summary in English on page 9)

For more information, please feel free to contact:

Helena Dorfh, investigator, +46 8 519 41 194

The Swedish Chemicals Agency’s press service, +46 8 519 41 200, press@kemi.se

E-mail addresses of the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s employees are written as follows: firstname.surname@kemi.se

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