The Washington Toxics Coalition recently studied the thermal paper used in cash register receipts and found that they contain high levels of unbound BPA (the receipts, not the Coalition members). Not only that, but it’s BPA in unbound powder form, not bonded form (as in plastics), so it leaches into your skin quite readily. The Coalition indicated that the BPA leached through receipts is in levels as high as BPA one might ingest through food sources.
According to this Fox News article, (yes, Chris, I’m quoting from the “fair and balanced” media outlet) “BPA is one of the most widely produced chemicals in history—about 6 billion pounds yearly. [ed. note: Wow! 6 Billion Pounds, That’s Nuts!] Research over the past decade has shown exposure to BPA can lead to increased risk of cancer, reproductive issues, early puberty and altered brain development.”
What You Can Do:
1. The following companies have BPA free receipts: Trader Joe’s, Hannaford, Home Depot, Albertson’s, Ace Hardware, Wal-Mart, Sears and Costco. Whole Foods also claims to have gotten rid of BPA laden thermal paper.
2. Don’t recycle your receipts unless you know they are BPA free. They can contaminate the whole paper recycling bin. BPA is more likely to break down in a landfill.
3. Don’t take receipts unless you know you need them. Frankly, I’m not sure why every store doesn’t use a computerized system where they can look up your transaction using your credit card number. In light of this news, maybe stores will look into this.
4. If you do have to take a receipt, don’t commingle it with your money or anything else in your purse or wallet. If you throw it in your purse next to a tissue and then use that on your or your Anklebiter’s nose, you’re just transferring BPA. Get a separate receipt wallet or envelope and use that.
5. Obviously don’t let your kids touch any receipts. BPA is much more damaging on developing human systems than on adult systems.
6. If you work with cash register receipts, use gloves. In fact, if you want to be truly paranoid, use gloves even if you don’t work with cash register receipts.
7. Support efforts by the Washington Toxics Coalition or any other groups to reduce BPA exposure.