Wear rubber gloves when you take that cash register receipt


What do stopping for your morning coffee, grabbing a sandwich at noon, filling up your gas tank, and making an after-work trip to the grocery store all have in common? Although we wish that was the intro to a really bad joke, the truth is they all expose you to concerning levels of bisphenol A, or BPA, a chemical that acts like estrogen and harms everything from your brain and heart to your reproductive tract.

While canned food usually gets most of the blame when it comes to our contact with the hormone-altering chemical, more studies are finding that skin exposure to BPA is a real threat, too.

The latest research, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that handling thermal paper used for movie and airline tickets and ATM, gas-pump, and store receipts reliably leads to BPA transfer into your body…

While the average person can cut down on this unnecessary BPA exposure by saying no to trivial receipts, the researchers are even more concerned about cashiers who may spend 40-plus hours a week handling chemical-coated receipts.

Heat-sensitive thermal paper is coated in colorless BPA powder because it helps bind to dye to form the letters and numbers you see on receipts. “When you touch thermal paper, you’re getting exposed to massive amounts of BPA,” explains veteran BPA researcher Frederick vom Saal…”Until recently, we didn’t know that. It’s just one example of BPA being used in a way that I never would have thought about.”

RTFA for more ways to worry about BPA. China has banned its use in a number of products. So has Canada. And a few local initiatives in the United States. The FDA is “studying”.

We need a few markets to convert to the SQUARE system used at my favorite coffee shop in Santa Fe. After sliding your credit card and doing all the magic calculations including tip – they send the receipt to your smartphone. I worry less about low level RF than BPA. 🙂

Thanks, Mike

2 thoughts on “Wear rubber gloves when you take that cash register receipt

  1. Update says:

    “Holding Thermal Receipt Paper and Eating Food after Using Hand Sanitizer Results in High Serum Bioactive and Urine Total Levels of Bisphenol A (BPA)” (published October 22, 2014) http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0110509 “Bisphenol A (BPA) is an endocrine disrupting environmental contaminant used in a wide variety of products, and BPA metabolites are found in almost everyone’s urine, suggesting widespread exposure from multiple sources. Regulatory agencies estimate that virtually all BPA exposure is from food and beverage packaging. However, free BPA is applied to the outer layer of thermal receipt paper present in very high (~20 mg BPA/g paper) quantities as a print developer. Not taken into account when considering thermal paper as a source of BPA exposure is that some commonly used hand sanitizers, as well as other skin care products, contain mixtures of dermal penetration enhancing chemicals that can increase by up to 100 fold the dermal absorption of lipophilic compounds such as BPA.”

  2. allthoughtswork says:

    You’re in San-Taffy? Hell, I was in Los Alamos for a little bit. You know, where the deer glow on the other side of certain chain link fences.

    That’s hysterical about hand sanitizers. I never trusted the concept of massaging gel-snot into my palms for safety. Now, I know what my intuition did.

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