Don’t Touch That receipt

Submitted by Angie on Tue 05/18/2010

Yes – that receipt – the one you just got from the grocery store, where you purchased your vitamins, your organic fruits and veggies and your whole grain bread. That receipt is made when manufacturers would coat a powdery layer of this BPA onto one side of a piece of paper together with an invisible ink. As pressure and heat are applied, they merge together and you’d get color. The founder of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, an organization that works with industry to develop safer products and production processes, Warner Babcock explained, the amount receipts carry isn’t trivial. “When people talk about polycarbonate bottles, they talk about nanogram quantities of BPA [leaching out],” Warner observes. “The average cash register receipt that’s out there and uses the BPA technology will have 60 to 100 milligrams of free BPA.” By free, he explains, it’s not bound into a polymer, like the BPA in polycarbonates. It’s just the individual molecules loose and ready for uptake. As such, he argues, when it comes to BPA in the urban environment, “the biggest exposures, in my opinion, will be these cash register receipts.” Once on the fingers, BPA can be transferred to foods. And keep in mind, he adds, some hormones — like estrogen in certain birth-control formulations — are delivered through the skin by controlled-release patches. So, he argues, estrogen mimics like BPA might similarly enter the skin.

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