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Chemical in receipts may cause health issues

July 27, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
New research is out on a chemical found in receipts used at businesses nationwide.Environmental Working Group found the amounts of chemical 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, grocery stores and even the U.S. Postal Service as handing out BPA receipts.

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

Various studies have linked BPA to health issues, including some cancers and reproductive problems.

The Legislature is currently trying to ban BPA 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 on anything else that might touch it," Sutton said.

The American Chemistry Council said 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," said Tim Shestek with the ACC on June 28.

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

"I'm really going to continue to wash my hands really good," said Gloria Ramirez on a recent shopping trip. "I don't even want to touch them after this because this is such a shock."

"I pretty much will try not to ask for a receipt then," said another shopper, Liberty Berry

In looking at CDC data, EWG also found retail workers who handle receipts had an average of 30 percent more BPA in their bodies than other adults.


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