You may want to think twice about handling a cash register receipt, especially if you’ve just slathered on some hand sanitizer or lotion.
Most receipts contain high levels of the chemical BPA (Bisphenol A), which acts like a hormone and can cause birth defects and cancer.
“Store and fast food receipts, airline tickets, ATM receipts, and other thermal papers all use massive amounts of BPA on the surface of the paper as a print developer.”
Researchers found a rapid increase of BPA in the blood of people who used a skin care product and then touched a store receipt with BPA.
“BPA first was developed by a biochemist and tested as an artificial estrogen supplement,” says Frederick vom Saal, professor of biological sciences at University of Missouri.
“As an endocrine-disrupting chemical, BPA has been demonstrated to alter signaling mechanisms involving estrogen and other hormones. Store and fast food receipts, airline tickets, ATM receipts, and other thermal papers all use massive amounts of BPA on the surface of the paper as a print developer.
“The problem is, we as consumers have hand sanitizers, hand creams, soaps, and sunscreens on our hands that drastically alter the absorption rate of the BPA found on these receipts.”
Receipts and French fries
People in the study cleaned their hands with hand sanitizer, held thermal paper receipts, and then ate French fries with their hands. BPA was absorbed very rapidly, vom Saal says.
“Our research found that large amounts of BPA can be transferred to your hands and then to the food you hold and eat as well as be absorbed through your skin.
“BPA exhibits hormone-like properties and has been proven to cause reproductive defects in fetuses, infants, children, and adults as well as cancer and metabolic and immune problems in rodents.
“BPA from thermal papers will be absorbed into your blood rapidly. At those levels, many diseases such as diabetes and disorders such as obesity increase as well. Use of BPA or other similar chemicals that are being used to replace BPA in thermal paper pose a threat to human health.”
Read the full study in the journal PLOS ONE.
Source: University of Missouri