Posted on Mar 24, 2014, 6 a.m.
Handling paper receipts may raise the body’s exposure to a chemical that is linked to reproductive and neurological concerns.
Thermal paper remains a predominant substrate of paper receipts. The paper contains bisphenol A (BPA), for which some studies suggest that the chemical acts an endocrine disruptor in the human body, altering the body's hormonal balance by replicating the activity of naturally occurring estrogen. Shelley Ehrlich,, from the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (Ohio, USA), and colleagues enrolled 24 university students and staff, ages 18 years and older, who were not pregnant, in a study that exposed subjects first to paper receipts for 2 hours with their bare hands. Whereas most of the subjects’ urine showed small but measurable amounts of BPA prior to handling the receipts at all, the researchers observed that the BPA concentrations rose post-exposures, by an amount equivalent to about a quarter of what would be expected from eating canned soup (canned foods often contain BPA in their linings. After at least one week, the subjects handled receipts but wore gloves to do so; in this case, no significant increases in urinary BPA were observed. Commenting that a “less-studied source of [BPA] exposure is thermal receipt paper, handled daily by many people at supermarkets, ATM machines, gas stations, and other settings,” the study authors report that: “handling of thermal receipts significantly increases BPA exposure.”
Ehrlich S, Calafat AM, Humblet O, Smith T, Hauser R. “Handling of thermal receipts as a source of exposure to bisphenol A.” JAMA. 2014 Feb 26;311(8):859-60.