Many people have begun to understand the enormous environmental consequences of the problem substances Bisphenol A and microplastics. The consequences may actually prove to be at least as serious as both the climate crisis and the loss of biological diversity.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is among the most problematic substances we face. In addition to a wide range of negative health effects, it is perhaps best known as a hormone disruptor that destroys reproduction. Not just with us humans, but as the amounts increase in the environment, also for all other organisms. Experiments with rainbow trout show that the damage is also passed on to the next generation.
That makes this one of our biggest environmental problems is how widespread the use of substances is, and how it finds its way out into the environment and into food chains and ecosystems. As this substance is found in most plastic products, we get it directly through food and drink. EFSA, the EU's food authority, has just proposed to reduce the limit values (TDI), tolerable daily intake, as much as 100,000x lower than the current limit values. This is how seriously the EU views this substance. From the 4 micrograms that were set as limit values in 2015, EFSA now proposes to lower this to 0.04 nanograms, which is the same as 0.00004 micrograms. The new EFSA limit values are now out for consultation, with a consultation deadline of 8 February 2022.
Microplastics and Bisphenol A – A dangerous mix
Far too much microplastic finds its way into the environment. The sources are many and the quantities are large. All possible plastic materials, epoxy and rubber are broken down into smaller parts until they are down to micro size or smaller. These particles practically do not break down in nature. Much of this pollution will accumulate and be an environmental problem for many hundreds of years, if not thousands of years to come. Each new emission comes in addition to all other emissions, and all previous emissions. What is released is practically impossible to remove again.
What is extra problematic is that many of these particles also contain other environmental toxins, such as Bisphenol A and other substances. When these substances remain inside these particles, they are largely protected from degradation, so that they will remain a gigantic and growing environmental problem for the foreseeable future. Until these particles enter, for example, an acidic environment or higher temperatures. Then the protective particles can be dissolved and the substances released into the environment. This is what happens when we get these microplastic particles into our digestive system. Not only us humans, but also all other organisms can in this way introduce the substance into the food chain, and eventually also to us humans. We thus get Bisphenol A and other environmental toxins through plastics that come into contact with food and drink, and also via the food chain in the food we eat.
Another problem with this type of pollution is that it can shift the reproduction of a number of organisms, which in turn can create an imbalance in ecosystems. Microplastics and Bisphenol A and other environmental toxins are now found in all parts of the world and in all ecosystems. Shells, mussels, crustaceans and other animals and organisms often have one or more microplastic particles in their bodies, no matter where in the world they are caught. There are several research reports that document this problem.
The problem is not getting any smaller, but it increases year by year, both in the number of sources and in volume.
Those sources we already have, we must reduce, and not least we must avoid creating new emission sources.
The problem is significantly bigger than what has been known
In addition to car tyres, and various plastic products are epoxy composites that are widely used in boats and in the blades of wind turbines, major sources of emissions of microplastics and Bisphenol A, and other substances. In addition, the problem is significantly larger and more serious than what the industry itself claims.
Two new research reports, from Sweden, and from South Korea show that much of the available research and knowledge is driven by the same industry that creates the problems, and that research and knowledge are thus often "coloured". This is described in more detail in our latest consultation responses, which you can find a link to further down this page.
Ongoing work with hearings
The Norwegian Environment Protection Association sent also earlier in February 2021 consultation response to the EU's chemicals register ECHA in relation to the Reach legislation regarding Bisphenol A. It was originally Germany that had requested a review. It is this work that is now continuing in ECHA, both with the Norwegian and German authorities.
Yesterday, 22 December 2021, the Norwegian Environmental Protection Association sent a consultation response both to The Norwegian Environment Agency's consultation in relation to ECHA/Reach, and also to Germany's consultation round for their work against ECHA/Reach. Our consultation responses are linked below.
- The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's consultation response to ECHA 15 February 2021
- The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's consultation response to the Norwegian Environment Agency 22.12.2021 (link to PDF at the bottom of the page)
- The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency's consultation response to Germany's BAUA for ECHA 22.12.2021 (PDF)