Mountain Equipment Co-op halts sales of plastic containers with BPA

Mountain Equipment Co-op has become the first major Canadian retailer to pull products, such as plastic containers, containing bisphenol-A, according to a report.

Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-ophas become the first major Canadian retailer to pull from its store shelves most products containing bisphenol-A, a chemical found in trace amounts in some hard plastic containers, according to a report.

Tim Southam, aMEC spokesman, toldthe Globe and Mail that consumerswho shop at the sporting gear store haveexpressed concern about the controversial chemical.

"We've been following this issue quite closely and it's one we've seen an increasing concern [about] among some members," Southam said.

The federal government is looking into whether BPA poses any health threats to humans. Health Canada is expected to release its findings in a report by May.

But Southam says the company wanted to be safe rather than sorry for the time being. "We are looking to the federal government for guidance on this issue," he said in an interview from Vancouver."So in the event that the federal government's review determines that BPA is OK and that it doesn't pose a health risk, then we will revisit the decision we've made."

Southam said the company didn't banish all polycarbonates because the plastic is also used within components for technically specific products, like water filters, which stores will continue to sell, he said.

BPA is found in a range of products, including Nalgene bottles, food containers and children's toys.

Recent studies have suggested BPA may be linked to fertility problems.

In January 2007, Yale researchers found that when BPA was administered to pregnant mice, it altered a gene responsible for normal uterine development. The study, published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, theorized that exposure to the chemical could lead to infertility in people.

On its website, plastic bottle maker Nalgene says BPA has been used around the globe for more than 50 years, noting studies from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have showed the chemical doesn't pose a health risk.

With files from the Canadian Press