Ever since I caught the latest stories about the presence of BPA in cash register receipts and the propensity for that BPA to penetrate the skin, I have been extremely wary of taking receipts in the checkout line. I recoil in terror at the menacing paper as if it were a ticking time bomb, and heaven forbid if a clerk or well-meaning attendant should try to hand that toxin-laden sheet to one of my kids! We'd have to run from the store as if our very lives depended on it.

Of course, I'm joking (mostly), but if you have been concerned about handling receipt paper and ATM receipts due to the association with BPA, you'll be delighted to learn that there will soon be a way to differentiate BPA-laden from BPA-free paper at a store near you.

Wisconsin-based Appleton Paper produces more than half of the thermal receipt paper sold in North America. The company is the only company to make or sell BPA-free thermal receipt paper in the U.S. Before now there was no way to know if the receipt you got at the store was printed on Appleton paper or another brand.

But today, Appleton announced that it has begun incorporating tiny biodegradable red rayon fibers into its stock. The tiny red fibers will be visible on the back of the paper on the uncoated side (see the image above.)

The red fibers will be in about 75 percent of the thermal receipt paper that Appleton ships by the end of November. Appleton expects to have the red fibers in all of its thermal receipt paper before the end of first quarter 2011.

According to Kent Willetts, the firm’s vice president of strategic development, Appleton eliminated BPA from its thermal-receipts paper four years ago when a blizzard of toxicology studies began pointing to potential health threats posed by the chemical.

Hooray, one less worry to contend with for the holiday shopping season. Of course, you could make your purchases even greener by skipping the receipt altogether unless you absolutely need it.

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