A New York Senator is asking the Environmental Protection Agency why it did not include Bisphenol-A, the controversial plastic-hardener, on a list of chemicals subject to stricter rules.
In a letter sent Tuesday, Democrat Charles Schumer urges the EPA to develop an action plan for BPA, which has been linked to reproductive and neurological disorders in animal studies.
Late last year the EPA identified four chemicals that will be subject to increased regulation. BPA was not among them, despite agency director Lisa Jackson identifying the chemical last fall as one six that deserve more attention.
"In light of the serious risks posed by exposure to this chemical, the EPA's decision to postpone action on BPA does not seem to convey the proper sense of urgency," Schumer writes.
Calls placed to the EPA press office Tuesday were not immediately returned.
BPA is found in canned food linings, water bottles and hundreds of other household items. More than 90 percent of Americans have traces of the chemical in their urine.
In January the Food and Drug Administration changed its position on the chemical's safety, voicing "some concern" about its effects on children and infants.
Previously the agency had said the trace amounts of the chemical that leach out of food containers are not dangerous. But Obama appointees agreed to revisit that decision, after scientists complained it relied on a small number of industry-sponsored studies.
The American Chemistry Council, an industry trade group, has argued that BPA is safe and has been used widely since the 1950s. The group represents BPA producers including Dow Chemical Co., Bayer AG and Hexion Specialty Chemicals
The federal government has been grappling with BPA for nearly three years.
Dozens of animal studies have linked the chemical to abnormal growths and cancerous tumors, but those results have never been confirmed in humans.
The FDA said it wants more information on the chemical and has set aside $30 million to study its safety over the next 18 to 24 months.
While the FDA gathers more information, consumer safety advocates had hoped the EPA would push ahead with tighter regulation of the chemical
The EPA has authority to restrict the use of chemicals that pose risks to the environment and public health. The FDA regulates ingredients and packaging of processed foods and drugs.
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