Just say no (to receipts).
According to a report released earlier this week by the Environmental Working Group, 40 percent of receipts from business like McDonalds, CVS, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, Safeway, and even the U.S. Postal Service are contaminated with the endrocrine-disrupter and carcinogen bisphenol A. The BPA is used in the thermal paper the receipts are printed on and can easily be absorbed through the skin and mouth.
Researchers found that the total amount of BPA on some receipts was 250 to 1,000 greater than the amount found in a can of food.
There is certainly a danger to your average shopper, receipts often end up in the our pockets, wallets, and pocket books and can come into contact with hands, cellphones, packs of gum, glasses, and lipstick, but the greater concern should be for the workers who are ripping off and handing over BPA-covered receipts eight hours a day. Their exposure is off the charts; retail workers have been found to carry an average of 30 percent more BPA in their bodies than other adults.
Here are eight tips for minimizing your exposure to BPA in receipts from the Environmental Working Group:
- Minimize receipt collection by declining receipts at gas pumps, ATMs and other machines when possible.
- Store receipts separately in an envelope in a wallet or purse.
- Never give a child a receipt to hold or play with.
- After handling a receipt, wash hands before preparing and eating food (a universally recommended practice even for those who have not handled receipts).
- Do not use alcohol-based hand cleaners after handling receipts. A recent study showed that these products can increase the skin's BPA absorption.
- Take advantage of store services that email or archive paperless purchase records.
- Do not recycle receipts and other thermal paper. BPA residues from receipts will contaminate recycled paper.
- If you are unsure, check whether paper is thermally treated by rubbing it with a coin. Thermal paper discolors with the friction; conventional paper does not.
The good news is that only 40 percent of receipts were found to have BPA, which means the technology to print BPA-free receipts is out there.