Group assessment of bisphenols identifies need for restriction
ECHA and the Member States have assessed a group of 148 bisphenols and recommended that more than 30 bisphenols need to be restricted due to their potential hormonal or reprotoxic effects.
Helsinki, 6 April 2022 – Many bisphenols are known endocrine disrupters both for human health and the environment. They also have reprotoxic properties. As they are widely used, a group restriction has been identified as the best way to manage the risks of 34 bisphenols. This number may change as more information is generated for these and other bisphenols that were lacking data.
Three bisphenols (bisphenol A, bisphenol B and 2,2-bis(4'-hydroxyphenyl)-4-methylpentane) have already been identified as substances of very high concern (SVHCs). SVHC identification or harmonised classification and labelling is proposed for further bisphenols where sufficient information on hazards is already available. However, for many group members, more data needs to be generated before potential endocrine-disrupting and reprotoxic properties can be confirmed.
“Assessing chemicals in groups has been a successful approach as it makes it faster to identify which chemicals need regulatory action or more data, or those chemicals for which no further action is currently needed. As we assessed bisphenols with similar uses and functions as a group, companies can use this information to avoid replacing one bisphenol with another that is just as harmful – so-called regrettable substitution,” says Ofelia Bercaru, ECHA’s Director for Prioritisation and Integration.
German authorities are already preparing a proposal to restrict the use of bisphenol A and other bisphenols with endocrine-disrupting properties for the environment. Once it is clearer which bisphenols the German proposal will cover, ECHA and the European Commission will consider any further needs for regulatory action on bisphenols.
The planned restriction of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) will also need to be considered in any additional action as bisphenol AF and its eight salts are also defined as PFASs.
The use of products containing bisphenols may expose people and the environment to their harmful effects. Bisphenols are mostly used as intermediates in the manufacture of polymers or polymer resins, such as polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins and hardeners. They are also used in thermal paper, inks and coatings, adhesives, textiles, paper or in board. Industrial uses are expected to lead to relatively low exposures, whereas professional and consumer uses may lead to higher exposures.
To speed up the identification of chemicals that need regulatory action, authorities may decide to address them in groups of structurally related substances rather than as single substances.
This grouping approach:
- Brings consistency and improves the coherence of regulatory work.
- Makes it faster to identify substances that need regulatory action as well as those for which no further action is needed at this stage.
- Supports informed substitution by industry. Substances registered for intermediate uses only, or those not currently registered but which could be potential substitutes for known substances of concern, are also identified early on.