Sweden Bans BPA From Drinking Water Pipes
In another unilateral move that will keep the country steps ahead of the EU on curbing the use of suspected endocrine disruptors, Sweden has announced it will ban epoxy linings containing bisphenol A (BPA) from drinking water pipes with effect from Sept. 1. In announcing plans for the ban a year ago, the government said action was needed to protect small children. “There are alternative, more environmentally friendly materials and methods for the repair of water pipes available in Sweden,” the environment ministry said at the time.
Studies commissioned by Sweden’s national chemicals agency (Kemi) are said to have shown that water pipes refurbished with some epoxy products can leach BPA into water, with the consequence that baby formula mixed with the water could absorb high levels of the controversial substance.
The situation in Sweden is somewhat different from other parts of Europe as the country has a special system for distribution of hot water in apartment buildings. Here, the water is heated centrally, rather than in individual boilers, so that it remains in contact with the epoxy lining for longer periods. This, the ministry said, contributes to the migration of BPA from the epoxy lining as well as the buildup of excessive concentrations of the chemical.
Along with France – and more recently The Netherlands – the Scandinavian country has long been at odds with the EU Commission over regulation of endocrine disruptors, even threatening to sue Brussels authorities.
In 2015, the Commission’s European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an opinion that exposure to BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group, either from diet or a combination of other external sources. At the same time, it declined to further reduce its recommended daily exposure level.
Earlier this year, EFSA had to backtrack, however, after new scientific evidence on the potential effects of the chemical on the immune system turned up in an assessment of international research by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in The Hague.
The EU food safety agency is now recruiting international experts to evaluate the new evidence, with preliminary results expected in 2018.