BPA in receipts: Five ways to reduce your exposure

A buddy warned me not long ago, to avoid handling cash register receipts because they cause cancer. True or false?


Mores studies are needed, but probably true.


Lowdown: Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to line aluminum cans, in medical equipment, food packaging — and in heat-sensitive paper used for ATM, business and store receipts.  BPA and chemically similar compounds mimic estrogen, potentially causing health problems, including increased risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

BPA is absorbed through the skin, and cashiers who handle receipts without gloves have elevated levels of BPA in urine samples. Absorption may be aided by lotions and sunscreens designed to breakdown dermal barriers. Substituting Bisphenol S (BPS) is not a solution. It causes similar problems, and lingers longer in the environment.

What to do: 

  1. Ask for an electronic receipt
  2. Wash hands after handling receipts
  3. If you are a cashier, wear gloves
  4. Support companies who stop using BPA and BPS. Appvion, Inc. has developed receipt paper that uses vitamin C as a thermal developer, and at least one grocery chain, PCC Natural Markets , has gone BPA and BPS-free.
  5. Push for more studies by the EPA and the FDA to determine how much exposure to BPA is safe.
Red fibers are added to help consumers identify this as BPA and BPS-free paper. Photo source: Fast Company.


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