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BPA: Easily Absorbed by Handling Receipts

05.23.11 BPA: Easily Absorbed by Handling Receipts

BPA in receipts

We know this isn't new information for everyone, but for some, it's another shocker where unwanted chemicals creep into our lives. The little slip of paper that we often absent-mindedly take from a cashier or an ATM, and stuff into our purses or pockets, is often covered with the endocrine-disrupting chemical BPA and can be easily absorbed through the skin.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), explains the use of BPA in receipts, "Thermal paper is widely used for point-of-sale receipts, prescription labels, airline tickets and lottery tickets. Thermal printers use paper that is coated with a dye and developer (BPA or an alternative chemical). Heat from the thermal printing head triggers a reaction between the dye and developer, allowing the black print to appear".

Laurie David, columnist for the Huffington Post writes in her recent article, "Hold That Receipt, Thank You", that even worse, "the levels of BPA on those receipts are much higher than the ones found in canned food linings. BPA doesn't stay there either making it easy to be absorbed by anyone handling the paper".

“The average cash register receipt that's out there and uses the BPA technology will have 60 to 100 milligrams of free BPA. By free, it’s not bound into a polymer, like the BPA in polycarbonates. It’s just the individual molecules loose and ready for uptake", explains John Warner of Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, an organization that works with industry to develop safer products and production processes.

Beyond our own worries about touching and absorbing BPA, it's obviously very disheartening for all of the millions of workers who are handling receipts hundreds of times a day. Retail salespeople and cashiers are the 2 largest groups of US workers and the EWG reports that, "people in retail industries carry an average of 30% more BPA in their bodies".

Off to a promising start: After customer feedback and concerns regarding BPA, Kroger, the grocery store chain made an important announcement. In addition to making sure there is no BPA in the baby products Kroger sells, the store is ridding the chemical from its store brand canned foods and purchasing BPA-free paper for its store receipts.

And as of a few days ago, another news report claims that a slew of fast food restaurants have joined the shift with BPA-free receipts.

Of course, here at MightyNest we are hopeful that other retailers will follow and make similar changes. EWG gives some helpful tips for ways to avoid BPA from receipts:

  • Decline receipts as much as possible.
  • If you need a receipt, store in a separate envelope.
  • Never let a child hold receipts.
  • Wash hands after handling receipts.
  • Do not use alcohol-based hand cleaners after handling receipts. This can increase the skin's BPA absorption.
  • If you are unsure, check whether paper is thermally treated by rubbing it with a coin. Thermal paper discolors with the friction; conventional paper does not.
  • Do not recycle receipts and other thermal paper as this contaminates other paper.

How do you try avoiding BPA?

Posted in: BPA
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