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Thousands in Indonesia sign petition urging warning label for toxic chemical in water containers

News Desk

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Sat, March 6, 2021  /  04:20 pm
Thousands in Indonesia sign petition urging warning label for toxic chemical in water containers

A man transports water "galon" (19-liter water container) to be distributed to residents in the Kampung Muka in Ancol, North Jakarta, on March 21, 2017. (JP/Jerry Adiguna)

More than 50,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) to issue a label that warns consumers of the dangers of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical compound often found in galon, 19-liter plastic water containers.

The petitioner, the Health and Eco-Conscious Journalist Association (JPKL), believes no Indonesian authorities have made any moves to warn the public about potential health risks caused by the chemical substance.

Water containers commonly distributed in Indonesia are made from polycarbonate or hard plastic that often uses BPA in its production. BPA is also found in canned food linings.

Studies show that the compound, which theoretically acts like a hormone in the body, might raise the risk of infertility, heart problems, cancer and other health problems. Infants and young children are at a higher risk as their system of eliminating harmful substances is still developing.

Read also: Five tips for a less toxic home

The JPKL demanded that the BPOM require producers to add the plastic recycling symbol number seven in any plastic packaging that contains BPA.

“This is to protect the future of [children] and pregnant women, so they won’t be exposed to the dangerous chemical compound,” JPKL head Roro Daras wrote in the petition.

The Indonesian Food Testing Laboratory Network (JLPPI) echoed the petitioners, saying that the country had insufficient regulations on BPA in food packaging.

Several countries, such as Austria, Belgium and Canada, have prohibited producers from using BPA in making food contact plastics since 2011.

In a statement issued in January, the BPOM said studies conducted in the past five years had shown that the migration — or the transfer of chemical substances from food contact materials into food — of BPA in the refillable water galon was under 10 micrograms per kilogram of plastic 

In 2019, the agency issued a regulation limiting the migration of BPA to 600 micrograms per kg of polycarbonate plastic packaging.

The BPOM cited several studies from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that highlighted the minimum effect of BPA on humans because data showed that the substance’s exposure was too low to affect one’s health.

It also cited information obtained from other studies conducted by international organizations, concluding that the usage of refillable water containers made of polycarbonate does not increase BPA migration levels in water.

Editor’s note: The article has been updated to include statements from the BPOM.

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