BPA lurks in cash register receipts

Cash register receipts shown to have BPA

Cash register receipts shown to have BPA

The news has been filled with stories and warnings about BPA (bisphenol-A). This commonly used chemical has been found in everything from baby bottles to a wide variety of food and beverage containers. Plastics leach this estrogen-mimicking chemical.

BPA is also found in perhaps a majority of cash register receipts. And it’s been that way for years, according to John C. Warner, an organic chemist, author, patent holder and member of the Board of Directors of the Green Chemistry Institute in Washington DC.

Warner first discovered the widespread use of BPA in credit card receipts back in the 90’s while working for Polaroid. Later, as a professor teaching green chemistry at the University of Massachusetts, he sent students out to get cash register receipts, bring them back to the lab and test them, looking for the presence of BPA.

Cash register.tape

BPA-contaminated or BPA-free receipts all look the same

They found it in most of them. And their levels of BPA weren’t small.

Thing is, the BPA-contaminated receipts looked the same as the BPA-free ones.

Warner’s conclusion about BPA in the urban envionment? 

“The biggest exposures will be these cash register receipts.” Once on the fingers, BPA can be transferred to foods. And, he adds, some hormones — like estrogen in certain birth-control formulations — are delivered through the skin by controlled-release patches. So, he argues, estrogen-mimics like BPA might similarly enter the skin.

So what to do? 

First, don’t panic. Pregnant women  should wash their hands after handling a BPA-laced receipt. And keep them  out of kids hands. Maybe also store receipts in some zipper-type plastic baggie, not your wallet. Most of all, be aware of the situation and act accordingly.