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The Dangers of Cashier Receipts

Women working at cashiers are exposed to high levels of BPA used on thermal receipts, resulting in harmful health effects and adverse effects during pregnancy

17.02.2015 |

BPA, Bisphenol A, is a hazardous chemical used in many goods such as plastic bottles, food containers, and the lining of food cans. However, BPA is also used on a wide variety of thermal cashier receipts such as shop and fast food receipts, airline tickets and ATM and credit card receipts.

Although governments and regulatory bodies have begun to monitor BPA in goods, receipts remain outside of this and are largely unregulated.   

A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found worrying correlations between the handling of receipts and the immediate levels of BPA found in the body. Over a two hour period those continuously handling receipts, such as cashier workers, experienced significantly heightened BPA exposure and transmission into the body. BPA is particularly harmful to pregnant women and young children due to their vulnerability to toxins at this time.

"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. 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." (1)

Further studies have shown rapid increase of BPA levels in the blood through absorption via the skin after using hand creams or hand sanitizers and then handling receipts (2). Such products enhance the skins absorbability and therefore aid further transmission of BPA into the body.

It is recommended that pregnant women avoid handling receipts on a regular basis, specifically those working at cashiers. If handling must take place wearing gloves is strongly advised and it is also recommended to wash hands after use.

(1)    Thermal Paper Cash Register Receipts Account for High Bisphenol A (BPA) Levels in Humans, University of Missouri-Columbia, October 2014

(2)    Holding Thermal Receipt Paper and Eating Food after Using Hand Sanitizer Results in High Serum Bioactive and Urine Total Levels of Bisphenol A (BPA), Plos one Journal, October 2014

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