Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical that has been commonly used since the 1960s. Most of it is used to manufacture polycarbonate plastics and resins. It is one of the most well-known substances in a bigger family of bisphenols with similar chemical structures and uses.
Due to its hazardous properties, the use of BPA has been limited or is being limited in the EU to protect people's health and the environment.
BPA has been used in polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resin for decades.
Polycarbonate plastic is strong and tough material that can be moulded at certain elevated temperatures. Products made of polycarbonate plastic include common consumer goods, such as re-usable plastic tableware and bottles for drinks, sports equipment, CDs and DVDs.
Epoxy resins containing BPA are used to coat the inside of water pipes and the inside of cans for food and drink to increase their shelf-life and avoid getting a metallic taste on the food or drink.
BPA may damage fertility and has been identified as a substance affecting the hormonal systems of people and animals. In addition, it damages eyes and may cause allergic skin reactions and respiratory irritation.
- causes toxic effects on our ability to reproduce (Repr. 1B);
- may cause respiratory irritation (STOT SE 3);
- causes serious eye damage (eye dam. 1); and
- may cause skin allergies (skin sens. 1).
BPA has been restricted as a substance on its own and in mixtures intended for consumer use in the EU since March 2018. Its use in thermal paper has been restricted since January 2020. However, companies have commonly used bisphenol S (BPS) to replace BPA in thermal paper which is a concern as it is also suspected to affect human reproductive and hormonal systems.
To avoid similar situations where one hazardous bisphenol is replaced with another that may be equally hazardous, ECHA and the Member States have assessed the regulatory needs of 148 bisphenols as a group. Uses of the assessed bisphenols range from intermediates to thermal paper, inks, coatings, adhesives and textiles.
To protect people and the environment, the assessment found that 34 bisphenols need to be restricted as they may interfere with hormonal systems and affect reproduction. This number may change as more information is generated for these and other bisphenols that were lacking data.
Three bisphenols (BPA, bisphenol B (BPB) 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.
German authorities are already preparing a proposal to restrict the use of BPA and other bisphenols with endocrine-disrupting properties for the environment. Once it is more clear which bisphenols the German proposal will cover, ECHA will consider any further needs for regulatory action on bisphenols.
Coordination is also needed with the planned restriction of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) as bisphenol AF and its eight salts are also defined as PFASs.
In addition, the French and Swedish authorities have proposed to restrict over 1 000 skin sensitising chemicals in clothing, footwear and other articles with a similar skin contact. BPA and other bisphenols which have been identified as skin sensitisers, would be included in this restriction.
- Bisphenol A - European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)
- European Commission - Bisphenol A: EU ban on baby bottles to enter into force tomorrow, 31 May 2011
- Toy Safety in the EU - European Commission