If you’ve kicked the bottled water habit and stopped eating canned foods to eliminate your exposure to BPA, it may not be sufficient to stop there, according to a recent study that found large amounts of this toxic chemical in store receipts. The Environmental Working Group collected 36 receipts and commissioned the University of Missouri Division of Biological Sciences laboratory to find out just how much BPA was in them. The results revealed that the amount of BPA in thermal paper receipts is between 0.8 to 3 percent by weight – 250 to 1,000 times greater than the amount found in water bottles or canned food. Moreover, a “wipe test” revealed that 2.4 percent of the BPA wipes off easily and can penetrate the skin to the point where it can’t be washed off. Washing also requires caution, as alcohol-based cleaners can increase the skin’s BPA absorption according to one recent study.
Thermal papers are coated with a dye and a developer, which is usually BPA or some other chemical. The heat from thermal printers causes a reaction between the dye and the developer, allowing the black print to appear. Since most retailers use thermal paper for receipt printing, in general, retail workers have 30 percent more BPA in their bodies than other adults.
The good news is, sixty percent of the receipts collected by the EWG did not contain BPA. This is because not all retailers use thermal paper that contains it. Whether they do or not, consumers can always be safe by opting out of a receipt upon purchase.