It’s beginning to look like the answer is YES.
Swiss scientists recently found that BPA transfers readily from receipts to skin and can penetrate the skin to a depth that it can’t be washed off.
So the next question is, can BPA continue traveling a little bit further and end up in the bloodstream? We don’t know for certain yet, but EWG’s latest report in which they tested several common stores’ receipts for BPA makes it a valid concern. They found through testing that BPA on a receipt is 250 to 1,000 times greater than the amount of BPA typically found in a can of food or a can of baby formula, or that which leaches from a BPA-based plastic baby bottle into its contents. And even more telling is the fact that retail workers carry an average of 30 percent more BPA in their bodies than other adults, although it’s don’t know how much BPA-coated receipts contribute to people’s total exposure.
As suggested by EWG, one thing is certain: because many retailers already use BPA-free paper for their receipts, it’s one source of contamination that could easily be eliminated. The EPA is even concerned enough to start looking for BPA-free thermal paper alternatives. In the meantime, EWG offers some helpful tips to reduce your exposures to BPA in receipts:
- Minimize receipt collection by declining receipts at gas pumps, ATMs and other machines when possible.
- Store receipts separately in an envelope in a wallet or purse.
- Never give a child a receipt to hold or play with.
- After handling a receipt, wash hands before preparing and eating food (a universally recommended practice even for those who have not handled receipts).
- Do not use alcohol-based hand cleaners after handling receipts. A recent study showed that these products can increase the skin’s BPA absorption (Biedermann 2010).
- Take advantage of store services that email or archive paperless purchase records.
- Do not recycle receipts and other thermal paper. BPA residues from receipts will contaminate recycled paper.
- 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.