Vancouver Company Pulls Bisphenol-A Products

December 10, 2007

Mountain Equipment Co-op of Vancouver, Canada Pulls Merchandise Containing BPA From Its ShelvesAmidst rising concern about bisphenol-A (BPA), which has been linked to cancer and other diseases in more than 100 studies, the Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-Op (MEC) has become the first Canadian business to stop selling items containing BPA. Water bottles and food containers were removed late last week from the store’s shelves.


Tim Southam, a spokesman for the company, which has 11 stores across Canada and 2.6 million members, told CTV: “Inconclusive science and regulatory uncertainty presently surrounds bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic chemical that is an essential ‘building block’ of polycarbonate plastic. . .For these reasons, Mountain Equipment Co-op has stopped selling polycarbonate water bottles and food containers until guidance is provided by the Government of Canada on the health risks posed by BPA.’ ”

The chemical is also used in baby bottles, and has been linked to early puberty and obesity. One of the products pulled was the Nalgene water bottle, popular with college students and made by Nalge Nunc International of Rochester, NY. They issued a statement at their website, which said: “Based on the findings of the Food and Drug Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Plastics Council and other reliable sources from around the world, we continue to firmly believe in the safety of our products.”

Steven Hentges, Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group

While environmentalists heralded the move, the plastics industry lobby in Washington, DC not surprisingly feels otherwise and cited the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t banned or restricted BPA use. Steven Hentges, executive director of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group, said: “While MEC’s intentions are good, their action is not likely to have any impact on the health and safety of their customers…Consumer products made from bisphenol A have a very long track record of safe use and an equally long record of safety testing. No alternatives have been so well tested or so well vetted by government agencies…We are optimistic that, once Health Canada completes their review of bisphenol A, MEC will again stock the trusted products that their customers have relied upon for years.”

In May, Health Canada is scheduled to release its conclusions regarding BPA and health risks.

Aaron Freeman of the Environmental Defense advocacy group commented: “We’ve got study after study showing that it’s harmful, particularly for children…There are safe and available alternatives ready on the market…I think it’s a just matter of time — and not very much time — before this chemical’s off the market.”

Wal-Mart is also monitoring the situation, according to Kevin Groh of Wal-Mart Canada Inc. of Mississauga, Ontario, who said: “We are keen on Health Canada’s guidance, but have also placed this firmly on our radar as we engage chemical specialists (such as) vendors, NGOs and environmental groups as part of our overall sustainability program.”

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