By Jessica Bernardy, ECN Intern
Receipts seem harmless enough. A little piece of paper telling you what you bought, how much you spent, etc. However, recent pilot study at Harvard showed evidence that handling receipts can increase your blood levels of harmful chemicals. Some types of receipts, thermal receipts, contain high amounts of bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is part of a class of pollutants we refer to as POP’s, or persistent organic pollutants. They are persistent in our bodies and in our environment. BPA in the body has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, some cancers, cardiovascular disease, reproductive and brain abnormalities. In the study, while the levels did increase by 300%, the increase in BPA while handling receipts was not at dangerous levels, being 1/7th what you would get from eating soup from a can. However, all of our exposures to POP’s are additive, in our bodies and in the environment. It makes us at ECC think how we can avoid excess BPA when possible.
How do you tell if your receipt is printed on thermal paper? It has a sheen to it and when scratched on a hard surface will leave a black mark.
Here at Emerald City Clinic we are looking into ways to get away from handling these thermal receipts. If you don’t need your receipts to balance accounts, say no when asked if you want your receipt. Thermal paper is also found in airline boarding passes, tickets for movies, sporting events, and amusement parks tickets. Many smart phones have the ability to store these tickets in digital form, allowing us to avoid touching the thermal paper copy. We recommend that if you will be handling receipts for extended amounts of time, like when balancing bank accounts or if you work as a check out clerk, that you wear nitrile gloves.
There are things that the Doctors at ECN can recommend to help your body process and excrete BPA. Make an appointment to find out more.