Bayer MaterialScience LLC and IBWA quench public's thirst for information about polycarbonate safety

PITTSBURGH, June 25, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- The human body can survive for weeks without food. Without water, it's only days. As such, access to clean, safe drinking water is absolutely vital. Perhaps at no time is this more evident than in the aftermath of natural disasters (e.g., floods, hurricanes, earthquakes). Disease can spread rapidly and people can quickly become dehydrated when the clean water infrastructure has been compromised or destroyed. In such situations, bottled water can mean the difference between life and death.

Customers of three- and five-gallon water bottles for home, office and retail delivery require a plastic that can meet market demand for sturdy, yet lightweight bottles that can be recycled.

Bayer MaterialScience LLC, a global polycarbonate supplier, meets the needs of the bottled water industry with a polycarbonate formulated to provide good flow, exemplary dimensional stability, high mechanical and impact strength, and excellent light transmission and transparency.

Polycarbonate three- and five-gallon water bottles can be washed and reused more than 50 times, resulting in a product with one of the longest service lives of any water bottle in the field. Most importantly, the bottles, like all bottled water containers, are also sustainable. At the end of its life cycle, the polycarbonate can be recycled into near-virgin resin for second-life use in a variety of applications.

Safe, reliable, and rugged, polycarbonate is a proven packaging material. Still, one of its chief chemical building blocks, also known as a monomer, is bisphenol A (BPA), and it is frequently misunderstood. The emotional controversy surrounding this monomer often means that reasonable, science-based questions that may be asked about any complex subject can quickly turn confusing.

With that in mind, Bayer MaterialScience LLC and the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) have teamed up to encourage a fact-focused conversation about polycarbonate.

What is BPA?
It is a chemical building block used primarily to make polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate has been the material of choice for food and beverage product containers for nearly 60 years because it is lightweight, highly shatter-resistant and transparent. It is widely used in various food containers and many other everyday items, such as eyeglasses and compact discs. For example, many bottled water companies use polycarbonate plastic for their 3- and 5-gallon water cooler bottles. Because of less stringent toughness requirements in single-serve water bottle containers, polycarbonate is not used there.

Science and experts agree: BPA is safe for its intended uses
Key government bodies around the world have issued favorable opinions on the safety of this monomer. The consensus among these international regulatory agencies, which include the U.S. FDA, Health Canada, the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, World Health Organization/FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), and the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA), is that BPA is safe when used as intended.

Many international studies have been conducted to assess the potential for trace levels of monomer to migrate from lined cans or polycarbonate bottles into foods or beverages. The conclusions from those studies and comprehensive safety evaluations by government bodies worldwide are that polycarbonate plastic water bottles are safe for consumer use.

On Jan. 21, 2015, EFSA announced the findings of a comprehensive re-evaluation of BPA exposure and toxicity, concluding that dietary exposure  to Bisphenol A poses no health concern to consumers of any age group, including unborn children, infants and adolescents. In addition, EFSA noted that exposure to BPA from the diet or from a combination of sources (e.g., diet, dust, cosmetics and thermal paper) is below the safe tolerable daily intake (TDI) level.

On January 6, 2015, the U.S. FDA updated its "Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application" page on its website. The update references the newest FDA safety assessment of Bisphenol A (BPA) for use in food contact applications conducted in 2014. The webpage states that, "FDA's current perspective, based on its most recent safety assessment, is that BPA is safe at the current levels occurring in foods. Based on FDA's ongoing safety review of scientific evidence, the available information continues to support the safety of BPA for the currently approved uses in food containers and packaging."

You can be confident in BPA's safety
The fact is that international, independent, and objective scientific research has repeatedly shown BPA, when used as a monomer for plastics in food contact applications, to be safe.

The American Chemistry Counsel (ACC) is now seeking to better educate consumers about the facts of BPA through an advertising campaign encouraging consumers to visit their website www.FactsAboutBPA.org, which has extensive additional information. The main focus of this effort is to encourage consumers to pay attention to the science behind the story. ACC's message to consumers? "Listen to the science: Experts say BPA is safe."

The Bayer polycarbonate, Makrolon® WB1239, used in water bottle applications, is approved by the U.S. FDA for use in water bottles, as well as other food contact applications. A variety of other grades of polycarbonate can be used in food-contact applications as well.

"Our customers know best," said Sam Stewart, vice president of sales, Bayer MaterialScience LLC. "They know that polycarbonate offers a balance of properties which make it ideal for a wide range of applications in various industries, including food contact, medical, automotive, electronics and construction. And they know that the FDA and other government agencies around the globe have approved the use of polycarbonate for these types of applications."

"IBWA is pleased that leading scientific and regulatory bodies throughout the world continue to recognize the safety of BPA and polycarbonate bottles," said Joe Doss, president and CEO of IBWA. "Consumers can remain confident in the safety of their bottled water products. Scientific evidence clearly show that bottled water containers made from polycarbonate plastic are reliable and safe."

About Bayer MaterialScience:
With 2014 sales of EUR 11.7 billion, Bayer MaterialScience is among the world's largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction, sports and leisure and medical device industries. Bayer MaterialScience has 30 production sites around the globe and employed approximately 14,200 people at the end of 2014. Bayer MaterialScience is a Bayer Group company. Sustainability is central to the company's business and is based around the key areas of innovation, product stewardship, social responsibility and respect for the environment.

About IBWA:
The International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters, including spring, mineral, purified, artesian, and sparkling. Founded in 1958, IBWA's membership includes U.S. and international bottlers, distributors and suppliers. IBWA is committed to working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates bottled water as a packaged food product, to set comprehensive and stringent standards for safe, high-quality bottled water products.

Contact:
Bayer MaterialScience LLC
Bob Walker, Phone: 412-777-2369
Email: bob.walker@bayer.com 
General media inquiries can be directed to 412-777-5200.

For more information about Bayer MaterialScience LLC polycarbonate materials and technologies, call 1-800-662-2927 FREE, email plastics@bayer.com or visit www.plastics.bayer.com.

International Bottled Water Association
Chris Hogan, Phone: 703-647-4609
Email: chogan@bottledwater.org

For more information about bottled water, call 1-800-WATER11 FREE or visit www.bottledwater.org.