BPA, a chemical found in plastics, has been identified as a 'substance of very high concern'

Plastic bottles.

The European Chemicals Agency has identified Bisphenol A – used in a wide range of plastics – as a “substance of very high concern”.

Members of the committee said the chemical – also known as BPA – was of high concern “because of its endocrine disrupting properties which cause probable serious effects to human health”.

BPA is a chemical used to make plastics, including materials that come into contact with food.

Plastic bottles.
(Tim Ireland/PA)

These include refillable drinks bottles and food storage containers, as well as the protective coatings and linings for food and drinks cans.

The most recent statement from the European Food Safety Authority, in January 2015, said there is no risk posed to human health at current exposure levels.

It said the highest estimates for exposure in the diet and from other sources are three to five times lower than the maximum recommended level.

Plastic bottles.
(Rui Vieira/PA)

It also said there is no health risk to consumers of any age group, including unborn children, infants and adolescents.

But ClientEarth environmental lawyer Alice Bernard said: “Now BPA is finally recognised as an endocrine disruptor, the EU and national governments must act fast to limit the irreversible damage this chemical does to people and the environment.”

Research studies have linked BPA to a range of health conditions, including obesity in babies and prostate cancer.

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