Just say no to the paper receipt.
By: Shelley Butler
The last time you went to the mall, did the salesclerk ask you if you wanted your receipt handed to you, in the bag, or emailed to you?
Your first thought may be to grab the receipt and shove it in your purse or pocket. Think twice before doing this again. There is an important reason to forgo the printed receipt altogether, unless absolutely necessary.
Thermal papers used to print cash register, airline, restaurant, gas station and ATM receipts contain a potentially dangerous chemical called bisphenol A (BPA). In fact, 40% of all retail receipts are coated in BPA.
You may have heard of BPA in plastics, baby bottles (which has recently been banned by the FDA), and as a liner in canned food. Our bodies become exposed to BPA when we eat or drink from a BPA-lined can or plastic container. If touched, the skin can absorb the chemicals the receipt if printed on. In addition to human exposure, there is also concern over the release of BPA into the environment.
A study conducted by the University of Missouri, Division of Biological Sciences laboratory showed that BPA levels in receipt paper are 250 to 1,000 times higher than BPA found in food from BPA-lined cans. That doesn’t mean that receipt paper residue is as easily absorbed in the bloodstream as when ingested through food and beverage containers containing BPA, but it does cause reason for concern.
President Obama signed into law the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, which will become the Nation’s primary chemical management law. The new law includes a mandatory requirement for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to evaluate existing chemicals with clear and enforceable deadlines, starting with those “most likely” to cause risks.
BPA is chemically similar to the hormone estrogen, and is a member of a class of chemicals known as “endocrine disruptors.” BPA potentially disrupts estrogen, thyroid, and testosterone levels, which means that it can be linked to conditions like obesity, diabetes, endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). High BPA levels in men and women can contribute to infertility.
Decline your next receipt, or take it in the bag. If emailing is an option, create an email account solely for receipts so that everything is in one place. Try avoiding placing receipts in a bag with raw foods. If you need to keep important printed receipts, put them in a Ziploc bag and seal it to keep exposure to a minimum. It is a good idea to wash your hands after handling receipts.
There have also been studies that suggest using hand sanitizers or hand creams prior to touching thermal paper can cause a higher rate of BPA absorption. So don’t sanitize your hands before going to a place where you may be handed a receipt.
If you know a company is printing on thermal paper receipts, you can ask them to switch to a BPA-free paper manufacturer. Appleton Paper is the largest manufacturer of thermal paper receipts in North America, and they went BPA-free in 2006. Although some of the BPA alternatives still contain potentially harmful chemicals, this is a step in the right direction!
“Would you like your receipt?”
Originally posted on Carolina Health Coach.