60-Second Health

Store Receipts on Thermal Paper Can Transfer BPA

Volunteers who handled receipts containing the hormone-altering compound bisphenol A for two hours showed elevated BPA levels in their urine. Dina Fine Maron reports

Would you like a receipt with that? Well, maybe not.
A study finds that when store receipts contain the hormone-altering chemical BPA it can pass on thru the skin. BPA is typically used in plastics and the lining of canned goods but it also coats many receipts issued at supermarkets and gas stations.
Of course, it’s cashiers rather than customers who are most affected, since cashiers handle receipts throughout each day. BPA is linked to reproductive issues, cardiovascular disease and cancer. But we still have little information about exposure to BPA or what levels cause harm.

For the study, 24 volunteers handled receipts for two hours. The contact led to significant upticks in urine BPA levels. That’s compared with baseline data and with a control group who wore gloves when handling the receipts. The study is in The Journal of the American Medical Association. [Shelley Ehrlich et al., Handling of Thermal Receipts as a Source of Exposure to Bisphenol A

The peak levels of BPA in the urine of receipt handlers were still lower than from people after they ate soup from cans with BPA linings. But this study shows we’re absorbing BPA from a variety of sources.
Maybe they can email me my receipt.

—Dina Fine Maron

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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