The next time you reach for a paper receipt from the ATM or grab a receipt printed out of the Kroger self check-out line, you may want to consider the findings of a new study that points to higher BPA levels for those continuously handling the thin papers.
BPA, or Bisphenol A, is a chemical used in the production of some plastics and resins since the 1960s, according to the Nation Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Why is exposure to BPA a concern? Though the Food and Drug Administration says BPA is safe at very low levels, others point to health side effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children.
Though BPA is most commonly linked to food and drink packaging such as water bottles, canned foods and baby bottles, the new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looks a less familiar source: paper receipts.
Dr. Shelley Ehrlich of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and her associates had 24 participants print and handle receipts continuously for two hours without gloves. A week later, the volunteers repeated handling receipts for two hours but used nitrile gloves on their hands.
Before the study was conducted, all participants provided a spot urine sample. Samples were also taken after both experiments (handling receipts with and without gloves), to measure the difference in BPA levels in volunteer’s urine.
The results showed that BPA was detected in 83 percent of samples before the study was conducted and 100 percent of samples after handling receipts without gloves on.
The research team says there was no significant increase in urinary BPA after handling receipts with gloves.
- Seek out BPA-free products. More and more BPA-free products have come to market. Look for products labeled as BPA-free. If a product isn't labeled, keep in mind that some, but not all, plastics marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
- Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods since most cans are lined with BPA-containing resin.
- Avoid heat. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, advises against microwaving polycarbonate plastics or putting them in the dishwasher, because the plastic may break down over time and allow BPA to leach into foods.Use alternatives.
- Use glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.