Every time you handle a store receipt that was printed on thermal paper using bisphenol-a (BPA), a little bit of this estrogen-mimicking chemical rubs off onto your fingers. When you put it in your wallet, it rubs off onto other receipts and onto your money. Some scientists theorize that exposure from powdery residue off store receipts may be a more important pathway of exposure than the much more high-profile presence of BPA in plastic drinking bottles.
In fact, a recent study by Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families found traces of BPA on 21 of the 22 currency bills tested. The ubiquity of the chemical means that even the most conscientious consumer can not avoid it. That’s why Science News identified revelations about BPA on store receipts and money as one of its top environmental stories of the year.
BPA is in a class of chemicals known as endocrine-disrupters, meaning that it disrupts normal hormone functions in animals. It has been linked to numerous health issues, including cancer, neurological problems, reproductive difficulties, diabetes, obesity and more. Efforts to ban BPA use in the United States have so far been thwarted, most recently when a ban on BPA use in baby bottles was stripped from the Food Safety Modernization Act passed this fall.
The coalition suggests the following steps to reduce your BPA exposure:
The Washington Toxics Coalition and other chemical experts also recommend the following actions for limiting other sources of BPA exposure:
A round up of Science News and Care2 stories on BPA in 2010
Gift receipt photo by Flickr user billaday
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