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Nasty BPA

Posted Mar 24 2011 8:23pm

Bisphenol-A or BPA is a chemical that is used in making plastics, primarily polycarbonate plastics (#7) that are clear and almost unbreakable.  Some common things made of BPA are baby bottles, water bottles, sports equipment, eyeglass lenses, and medical and dental products like fillings.  It is used to line the inside of food cans and beverage cans.  One place that you might be surprised to find it is on store receipts.

Canada recently became the first country to ban BPA as a toxic substance, so that consumer products containing it cannot be made or sold in Canada.  Eight U.S. states have banned it from certain children’s products like bottles and sippy cups.  

Why is it considered toxic?  It is know to be estrogenic or an estrogen mimic.  It is suspected in fetal development issues, obesity, hyperactivity, heart disease, and cancer.  The ACC or American Chemistry Council claims that BPA is safe, but I would not want to risk exposing a child to BPA.  
I was surprised to learn that it is common on store receipts.  One survey estimated that 40% of all receipts are coated with BPA.  The companies that use this type of receipt include many giants in the retail arena including, McDonald’s, CVS, KFS, Walmart, Whole Foods (!!), and the Post Office.  Tests done by the University of Missouri found that the amount of BPA on receipts was 250 to 1,000 times the concentration in food cans or polycarbonate baby bottles.  A Swiss study found that BPA can be be absorbed through the skin, especially wet skin, so handling receipts can be a health risk.  

Store receipts that are printed on thermal imaging paper are likely to be coated with BPA.  I have been checking receipts for several weeks and found only one receipt that was not printed on thermal imaging paper.  It was from a local plant nursery and the print was bluish purple like the old mimeograph ink.  
So these receipts are everywhere and we handle them all the time.  What to do?  Don’t get a receipt if possible.  Depend on electronic receipts.  When I buy gas using a credit card, I say “No” when the pumps asks if I want a receipt.  Don’t let children handle receipts.  This sounds ridiculous but I think it is prudent since 40% of all receipts have BPA on them. 

To add insult to injury, these receipts should not be recycled.  They contaminate recycled paper and  spread BPA.
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