Late last week, the FDA rejected a petition from the Natural Resource Defense Council to ban the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in plastics and food can coatings. The long and short of it was that the petition was not convincing enough for the FDA to reverse its current position (one that is also consistent with European Food Safety Authority).
The decision was controversial, but such is the age we live in where science and technology is so highly politicized. Reaction from some quarters has been pretty extreme. Consider this headline from the Environmental Working Group (EWG): "FDA Keeps Toxic Plastic Chemical in Food, Infant Formula" Toxic? Really? I've seen lots of charges made about potential unhealthy aspects of BPA, including cancer, diabetes, endocrine disruption, obesity, and more, but not death, especially with oral LD50 values in the g/kg range. So how is it now considered toxic? Or is this an attempt to alter the meaning of toxic?
The bottom line is that BPA, and polycarbonate and BPA-glycidyl epoxies and a whole host of other polymers are going to be here for quite a while. The business community is certainly not giving up on it. Sabic and Sinopec announced today that they are forming a joint venture for a new polycarbonate plant in China, one that is going to cost $1.7 billion dollars, a pretty serious investment for the future.