The federal government has decided to add bisphenol A to the country's list of toxic substances and draft regulations that ban the sale in Canada of plastic baby bottles containing the chemical.

The federal ministries of Health and the Environment on Saturday said the government would move to restrict the importation, sale and advertising of bottles made with the controversial chemical after announcing six months ago it would declare it a toxic substance.

Although bisphenol A (BPA) makes plastic hard and shatterproof, tests show it can leach into food and beverages when heated.

Studies have shown the chemical can imitate the female hormone estrogen, and it has been linked to cancer and infertility in animals.

"It is concluded that bisphenol A be considered as a substance that may be entering the environment in a quantity or concentration or under conditions that constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health," the health and environment departments said Friday in the government publication Canada Gazette.

Concerns have been raised that BPA in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy linings can migrate into food and beverages, particularly when heated.

The government is proposing "to allow the lowest amount of BPA as reasonably achievable in infant formula cans" and all foods in general. Its risk management plan said it would aim for "stringent" targets for infant formula cans.

"Virtually every tin can in peoples' cupboards is lined with bisphenol A," said Rick Smith, executive director of the advocacy group Environmental Defence.