Thermal receipt paper is covered in Bisphenol A or BPA. These are the receipts from restaurants, grocery stores, and gas stations that we handle nearly every day. Once you handle the receipt, the BPA transfers to your hands. In the past year, the EPA and others have begun highlighting this issue, educating the public, and are helping with alternatives. I first heard about it while listening to this episode of Science Friday. I was surprised that it took this long to find it’s way into my news feed. So here’s my little part to help inform you of the issue.
BPA has been a topic of environmental, health and safety interest over the past decade. BPA is a problem because it is, “a reproductive, developmental, and systemic toxicant in animal studies and is weakly estrogenic, there are questions about its potential impact particularly on children’s health and the environment.” 1 Until now, most of the concerns with BPA have been with food containers, such as water bottles and canned products.
Studies have shown that if you use hand sanitizer or some lotions right before handling a receipt covered in BPA, it increases the absorption of the BPA into your skin. These lotions, sanitizers, and personal care products are designed to open your pores to allow the product to do its job. Opening the pores allows for the easier access of BPA into you.
What do you do now? Easy, don’t get receipts. At a restaurant, take a photo of the receipt. Have the receipt emailed to you instead of printed. More business are providing this option. I’ve recently selected this option at both Home Depot and PetSmart.
Absorption is one of the four routes of entry for a toxin to enter your body. You can use proper management or personal protective equipment (PPE) to reduce your exposure. In this case, the management is to not take a receipt. Wearing gloves as PPE to handle receipts may seem ridiculous. But it doesn’t If your job entails handling a lot of these receipts. If you do touch BPA covered thermal paper, wash your hands before you use them to eat something.