BPA and Store Receipts
Lurking Endocrine Disruptors and Learning to Avoid Them
The association between store receipts and Bisphenol A (BPA) grabbed headlines a few years ago (2010-2011), prompting some stores to switch to BPA-free receipts while most others continued to use them. BPA is commonly found in thermal print paper, including the silky-smooth receipts often received with groceries, making it a prevalent endocrine-disrupting environmental contaminant.
The debate surrounding the safety of BPA continues, with the FDA considering it safe, but mounting research suggests otherwise. Numerous studies have demonstrated the presence of BPA metabolites in nearly everyone's urine, and it is estimated that the primary source of exposure is through food and beverage packaging.
In a recent study titled "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 in PLOS ONE, researchers reveal that thermal receipt paper can be a significant source of BPA exposure. The paper's outer layer contains substantial quantities of BPA, reaching approximately 20 mg BPA per gram of paper.
Moreover, the study makes another intriguing finding— the use of hand sanitizers can enhance the absorption of BPA. The alcohol present in hand sanitizers boosts the skin's absorption of BPA, a phenomenon also observed with certain other skincare products. Some commonly used hand sanitizers and skincare products contain chemical mixtures that can increase the dermal absorption of lipophilic compounds like BPA by up to 100 times.
For those interested, the complete study can be accessed here.
Implications and Call for Regulation
Upon examining this study, a broader takeaway emerges— it extends beyond the levels of BPA found on thermal paper receipts. The crucial message lies in recognizing the widespread use and exposure to hormone/endocrine disrupting compounds and the urgent need for robust regulation. While skipping receipts and encouraging retailers to switch to BPA-free options, as exemplified by Whole Foods, is a commendable step, we must also consider other potential sources of exposure and their implications.
In conclusion, as the scientific community continues to delve into the effects of endocrine disruptors, it becomes increasingly evident that fostering awareness and advocating for comprehensive regulation are vital in safeguarding public health from potential risks associated with these compounds.