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There May Be BPA In Your Cash Register Receipts

Why it’s there and how to reduce your exposure

There May Be BPA In Your Cash Register Receipts

When you read that title, were you surprised? When I first learned about this a few years back, I was pretty shocked. When I think of things that have the hormone mimicking chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) in them, I think of cans and plastic products, but BPA in store receipts? What?!

Click to learn what BPA is and why you should be avoiding it.

Now, you won’t find BPA in every single receipt you bring home. The type of receipts that usually contain BPA are thermal paper receipts, the type that are really smooth and have a bit of a shine to them. Thermal paper is often used for cash register and credit card receipts, fax machine paper, airline boarding passes, lottery tickets and more. Thermal paper is coated with a special dye and developer and that developer in some cases is BPA. When the printer is activated, this causes a reaction between the dye and developer, allowing the black print to appear on your receipt.

Approximately 40% of the receipts we bring home contain BPA, but there is no way for us to really be certain which ones contain the chemical. So what’s a consumer to do?

How to reduce BPA exposure from receipts

The good news is studies show that BPA from receipts will not absorb into the skin immediately, so if you do handle a receipt; wash your hands with soap and water as soon as possible, but don’t use an alcohol based sanitizer as they can enhance the absorption rate. Before you are able to wash up, avoid touching your mouth, and eyes as these are places where BPA can be absorbed easily and quickly.

  • Don’t ask for or take a receipt if you really don’t need one. Of course, there are times when we do need to take the receipt. As a small business owner, I need to track all of my business expenses, so I always need the receipt when I make a purchase for my business. Once I get home, I file the receipt away.
  • If you do take a receipt at the grocery store, don’t place it in a bag with exposed foods such as produce. Carry an envelope in your purse designated for receipts.
  • Keep receipts away from children. BPA exposure in young children is linked to a long list of issues including brain problems, early puberty, and impaired learning.
  • If you are a retail business owner and you have registers that use thermal paper, look into purchasing eco-friendly and BPA-free thermal paper or consider giving customers the option of having their receipts emailed. Hopefully, all stores will realize that many consumers would love to go paperless (and BPA-free!).