Over eight billion pounds of bisphenol-A, a chemical compound used in making plastic products and the linings of tin cans, are produced annually worldwide. Known as BPA, the substance turns up in human tissues, too. Because the chemical can leach out of products and into food, diet is the most obvious means of human exposure. However, recent research shows that the chemical can be absorbed into human skin in a less familiar way: the handling of receipts.
The claim: Thermal receiptsthe type dispensed at most grocery stores or ATMscontain enough of the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) to triple its concentration in your body after 2 hours of handling, finds research published in JAMA.
The research: The study team, made up of members from several US colleges, recorded urine BPA levels among 24 adults both before and after the participants spent 2 hours printing and handling thermal receipts. BPA levels jumped from an average of 1.8 micrograms per liter (µg/L) before handling to 5.8 µg/L a few hours later. BPA levels peaked 8 hours after the experiment at 11.1 µg/L.
What it means: BPA, which is also found in plastics and canned food containers, has been linked to higher rates of asthma, heart disease, obesity, and canceralthough studies conducted by the National Institutes of Health and the FDA have not revealed enough conclusive evidence to ban BPAs use.
Receipts are printed on paper that features a heat-sensitive coating …
Animal studies have shown high doses of BPA are harmful, and because the chemical is known to mimic the effects of estrogen, some scientists advise that pregnant women and babies should minimize their exposure to BPA, which is commonly found in babies’ bottles. BPA forms part of a complex polymer used in polycarbonate plastics destined for food or drink containers, and the linings of canned foods and drinks. It is found as a more readily absorbed free monomer in thermal paper, such as that used in cash register receipts.