New research done by a non profit research organization in Washington DC shows that high levels of BPA (Bisphenol-A) are found in cash register receipts. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) says their research that the cash register receipts had levels of BPA that were hundreds of times higher than amounts found in plastic water bottles, canned foods and baby bottles.
The reason that this information is a cause for concern is because BPA is an endocrine disruptor which works in a similar fashion to DDT or PCB. According to 2004 statistics, BPA manufacturers made over 1 million tons of the substance. Most of this usually goes into the polycarbonate plastics industry, and less than 5% into food contact applications.
The BPA being present in the cash register receipt comes from the fact that the substance acts as a color developer in carbonless copy paper, as well as in thermal paper. This means that BPA could also be in packing slips and parking tickets. EWG discovered that a large amount of the BPA actually transfers onto the individual’s hands when the paper is handled. They caution that this could then get absorbed by the skin and enter your body; or worse through your fingers into the food you ingest after handling a cash register receipt.
The research found that of the retailers that they covered, notably high levels of BPA were found in receipts from KFC, the US Postal Service and Whole Foods; and Target and the Bank of America had low or no BPA. It is hoped that the research will pave the way for some kind of action to be taken by people’s representatives. But until then it looks like the best way is to be safe than sorry, and remember to handle those receipts with care and cleanse your hands immediately after!