Regulating the use of Bisphenol A in baby and children's products in the European Union: Current developments and scenarios for the regulatory future

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Abstract

Parents of newborns and small children have recently been confronted with labels indicating that their purchases of a baby bottle, teethers or sippy cups are now ?Bisphenol A-free? (BPA). A synthetic chemical used in the production process of polycarbonate (plastics), Bisphenol A is currently making headline news in the US and the EU. Its questioned safety in food plastics, baby bottles and children's toys has turned plastics into a political issue as it is systematically framed as a risk in media coverage.Apart from regulatory exposure limits (Tolerable Daily Intake levels (TDI), Bisphenol A is currently not subject to any restrictions in use yet (although BPA will be subject to a ban on the EU level from spring 2011 onwards). However, with the REACH framework (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation of Chemicals), a new regulatory framework for EU's chemical policy in place since June 2007, these exposure limits may be reviewed and BPA may face regulatory action. This article aims to analyse the regulatory process of Bisphenol A in the EU as an example of an uncertain risk dossier. On the basis of document and media analysis and interviews, the main aim is to gain an understanding of how uncertain risks are being regulated in the European Union. To that end, the self-regulatory behavior of industry is also considered. On the basis of the current regulatory tools in place and the current state of affairs, as well as developments in the controversy around BPA, the paper concludes by presenting four scenarios that illustrate the dynamics of the case and its possible regulatory outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-35
JournalEuropean Journal of Risk Regulation
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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