More than 90 percent of receipts contain chemicals linked to infertility, autism and type 2 diabetes, new research reveals.
The so-called ‘gender-bending’ chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) and its ‘healthier alternative’ Bisphenol S (BPS) are added to 93 percent of receipts given out in stores, with just two percent having no chemical coating at all, a US study found.
Cashiers and waiting staff, who frequently handle receipts, are particularly vulnerable to the chemicals’ effects, the research adds.
BPA, which reacts with estrogen and thyroid hormone receptors, has been linked to infertility, autism, ADHD, obesity, type 2 diabetes, premature births and early onset of puberty.
Health fears prompted BPA to be replaced with BPS, however, evidence suggests this disrupts babies’ development in the womb.
BPA and BPS, which are added to receipts to make their writing darker without using ink, are also often found in plastic water bottles and food containers.
The US Food and Drug Administration has banned BPA from baby bottles, while The European Commission prohibits the chemical from being added to receipts from 2020.
Over 90 percent of receipts contain chemicals linked to infertility, autism and type 2 diabetes
HOW TO REDUCE YOUR BPA AND BPS RECEIPT EXPOSURE
The researchers recommend people reduce their BPA or BPS receipt exposure by:
- Choosing electronic receipts if available
- Folding receipts so the printed side is facing inwards. The back is not typically coated in chemicals
- Keeping an envelope in their wallets to place receipts. This avoids them rubbing against money
- Not handing receipts to children
- Washing their hands after touching receipts
- Disposing of receipts in the trash over recycling to avoid contaminating recycled paper
- Cashiers should only print receipts when asked, wear gloves, wash their hands thoroughly and avoid touching their mouths
Who is most at risk?
Past research reveals cashiers and waiting staff can handle as many as 30 receipts an hour.
After a shift, such workers have significantly higher BPA and BPS levels in their blood and urine than the average person.
Previous studies suggest BPS can be found in the urine of 81 percent of people living in the US, of which 90 percent can be traced to receipts.
Past research also reveals even briefly handling receipts causes a significant amount of BPA or BPS to be absorbed into the body, which increases up to 10 times if the person has greasy or moist fingers, or has recently applied hand sanitizer or lotion.
Which stores’ receipts are the safest?
Culver’s restaurants’ receipts contain no chemical coating at all, the study found.
Best Buy’s has a chemical known as Pergafast 201, which is thought to be less toxic than BPA or BPS.
Earlier this week, Trader Joe’s announced plans to switch to chemical-free receipts ‘as soon as possible’.
How the research was carried out
Researchers from the Michigan-based non-profit organisation The Ecology Center analyzed 207 paper receipts from a variety of businesses collected between January and April 2017.
These included nationwide grocery and homeware stores, such as Meijer, Kroger and TJX, as well as gas stations, theaters, libraries and small independent businesses.
The researchers screened these receipts for BPA or BPS.
CONCERNS OVER BPS and BPA
BPS was designed as a replacement for BPA after mounting concerns over the plastic compound’s effect on human health.
Yet, scientists now believe that BPS is also a hormone disruptor.
WHAT ARE THESE CHEMICALS?
So-called endocrine-disrupting chemicals are found in thousands of everyday products, ranging from plastic and metal food containers, to detergents, flame retardants, toys and cosmetics.
Bisphenol A in often used for hard reusable bottles and food containers, while Bisphenol S can typically be found in personal care products and baby bottles.