Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Attention Shoppers - Many Receipts Contain BPA (bisphenol A)

Anything related to healthy living always gets my attention, especially now that I'm a mom.  So I wanted to share what I learned while watching the news today.  They reported that many cash register receipts contain bisphenol A (BPA). Receipts were tested from major retailers, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, fast food restaurants, post offices, and automatic teller machines (ATMs) and 40 percent were found to contain BPA.

This news was surprising to me, I had no idea there was BPA in receipts. When I'm out shopping, I usually stash receipts in the front of my diaper bag alongside items for my baby including books and toys. After learning about BPA in receipts, I will no longer put receipts anywhere near my diaper bag or baby and will try to minimally handle them myself.

Until all receipts are paperless or generated on BPA-free paper, the best thing to do is try to minimize exposure to BPA in receipts.   

Strategies to Minimize BPA Exposure in Receipts*

- Never give a receipt to a child to hold or play with.
- Wash hands after handling a receipt, especially before preparing or eating food (also be aware that a study found that BPA transfers readily to the skin and penetrates deep enough that it cannot be washed off)
- Minimize collecting receipts by declining receipts at gas pumps, ATMs, etc.
- Take advantage of store services that email or archive paperless purchase records
- Store receipts separately in an envelope in your wallet or purse
- Do not recycle receipts and other thermal paper. BPA residues will contaminate recycled paper.

*This information was summarized from the Environmental Working Groups article “Synthetic estrogen BPA coats cash register receipts”.

Prior to learning about this news, I saved receipts by month in a small accordion file. This makes it handy if I need to make a return or have a problem with something we purchased.  I wonder if it’s worth continuing to save receipts if many contain BPA?  Anyone with a business needs to save receipts for taxes, but digital scans of receipts are acceptable.

Perhaps sales of the NeatReceipts machines will increase with this news? I’ve been intrigued by them since I first heard about how easily they scan and digitally file receipts, business cards, and other important documents. Saving receipts digitally would help reduce clutter and potentially minimize exposure to BPA.

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