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Study finds high BPA levels on store receipts

July 27, 2010 5:24:12 PM PDT
New lab tests show high levels of the chemical Bisphenol-A in something we all handle quite often, store receipts. California has been on the frontlines in trying to restrict its use.

The study did not look into how much BPA enters our bodies from handling receipts, but determined that it is present in some of the lilttle paper slips. Shoppers almost always get a receipt after buying something.

Environmental Working Group found that the amounts of Bisphenol-A (BPA) on 40 percent of those pieces of paper it tested were 250 to 1,000 times greater than in products like canned food liners and baby bottles. The study named giants like McDonalds, Safeway, and even the U.S. Post Office as handing out BPA receipts.

"We're not sure yet how much could come in through the skin, but this is an exposure we should pay attention to considering that CDC data shows that 93 percent of us have this chemical in our body," says Dr. Rebecca Sutton with the Environmental Working Group.

Various studies have linked BPA to health issues including some cancers and reproductive problems. The Legislature is currently trying to ban the chemical from children's products.

For receipts, the BPA is used to coat the thermal paper.

"Since the whole paper is impregnated with this BPA, it can wipe off onto our fingers or onto anything else that might touch it," Sutton says.

The American Chemistry Council says receipts contain low levels of BPA and is not readily absorbed through the skin. In fighting California's BPA ban on baby products last month, the group cited other major studies that said the chemical is fine.

"You have to look at the data collectively and the collective data from international scientific bodies has concluded BPA is safe as used," Tim Shestek with the American Chemistry Council said on June 28.

Stores like Starbucks, Target and Bank of America ATMs already use BPA-free paper. Still, shoppers tell ABC7 they want to be more careful.

"I'm really going to continue to wash my hands really good. I don't want to touch them after this because this is a shock to me," says shopper Gloria Ramirez.

"I pretty much will try to not ask for receipts then," shopper Liberty Berry says.

In looking at other CDC data, Environmental Working Group also found retail workers who handle receipts on a daily basis had 30 percent more BPA in their bodies than other adults.


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