Dentsply – Toxic Chemicals in Products: Bisphenol A (BPA) (2011)
Outcome: Successfully Withdrawn
Bisphenol A (BPA), a potentially hazardous chemical, has received media attention for its use in a variety of consumer products. However, BPA is also used in the production of dental sealants and composites. BPA can leach out of these products resulting in human exposures. BPA is known to mimic estrogen in the body; numerous animal studies link BPA, even at very low doses, to potential changes in brain structure, immune system, male and female reproductive systems, and changes in tissue associated with increased rates of breast cancer. Exposure to BPA by the very young, as well as pregnant women, are among the greatest concerns to experts.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association associated BPA with increased risk for human heart disease and diabetes. In January 2010, the US Food and Drug Administration reversed its stance on the safety of BPA, concluding that the agency has “some concern” about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland in fetuses, infants, and young children, and supports additional research. Most recently, Canada’s health and environmental agencies added BPA to its list of toxic chemicals.
The US Congress, as well as some US states and cities, have proposed legislation banning BPA in certain food and beverage packages. In addition to potential bans, proponents believe our company might face liability or reputational risks from using BPA. For instance, class action lawsuits against other companies already contend that manufacturers and retailers of BPA-containing products failed to adequately disclose BPA’s risks.
Shareholders request the Board of Directors to publish a report by September 1, 2011, at reasonable cost and excluding confidential information, updating investors on how the company is responding to the public policy challenges associated with BPA, including summarizing what the company is doing to maintain its position of leadership and public trust on this issue, the company’s role in adopting or encouraging development of alternatives to BPA in dental products, and any material risks to the company’s market share or reputation in continued use of BPA.