Touching thermal receipt paper is a major contributor to your body’s intake of toxic chemicals BPA & BPS. These chemicals are from the bisphenol family and are classified as hormone disruptors because they can disrupt your everyday hormonal processes. And they are common, like really common. In fact, over 93% of the population tests positive for BPA. Bisphenols, like BPA, are linked to weight gain, infertility, early puberty, complications during IVF fertilization, hyperactivity in children, lowering vitamin D in the body, irregular heartbeat, diabetes, inflammation, oxidative stress, breast and prostate cancers. Do you know anyone suffering from any of these problems? Most people do because in the good U.S. of A the Feds view chemicals as innocent until proven guilty and throw them into commerce before we even really know what will happen.
So where are people being exposed to BPA & BPS? Well, receipt paper is a huge contributor to this problem. And the brands that coat their thermal receipt paper with BPA or BPS are delivering to you a toxic receipt, which is I’m sure more than you bargained for. Would you like to know who the guilty parties are? We are about to name names on who is sharing the responsibility of poisoning you all with hormone-disrupting chemicals every time you shop.
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How Do Biphenols End Up in Receipt Paper?
When you go shopping and purchase something, the most common technology to process receipt paper is thermal receipt paper. Thermal receipt paper is covered with a film of powdery BPA or BPS. The system uses a laser to heat up the thermal paper, which causes the bisphenols to turn a darker color. After less than a year, the printing starts to fade.
Dermal contact for BPA/BPS in thermal receipt paper is high, which means it’s one of the main contributors to contamination within the body. When you handle cans and bottles that are lined with BPA/BPS, they are “bounded” which means the molecules must break down in order for a person to absorb the chemical. But when it comes to thermal receipt paper, the BPA/BPS are present in the loose powder, which leaves a chemical trace on your fingers very easily. Therefore, the contamination is higher in thermal receipt paper than it is with bottles and cans.
Study Done on Thermal Receipt Paper Exposure in Humans
In 2014, a study was done on BPA and human participants analyzing urine levels before and after handling thermal receipt paper. Initially, participants handled the thermal receipt paper without wearing gloves and their urine tested high for bisphenols. Then about a week later, they handled the paper again. But this time they were broken up into groups: people handling receipts and wearing gloves AND people handling receipts and not wearing gloves.
- Two hours later, participants who handled receipts without gloves had a rise of BPA/BPS in the urine from 1.8 micrograms per liter to 5.8 micrograms per liter.
- Eight hours later, participants who handled receipts without gloves had a rise of BPA/BPS in the urine from 1.8 micrograms per liter to 11.1 micrograms per liter, an almost 5x increase.
- Participants that wore gloves while handling receipts had no significant increase in BPA, proving that the increase in BPA/BPS in urine had nothing to do with inhalation, but dermal contact through the skin.
Based on the findings of this study, it’s safe to assume that millions of Americans are exposed to higher levels of BPA/BPS while shopping and handling receipt paper. Now to the question of what stores are poisoning us with contaminated thermal receipt paper…
Which Stores Are Using Thermal Receipt Paper Contaminated with BPA/BPS
EcoCenter.org tested the thermal receipt paper of over 150 stores to ascertain which nationwide stores were exposing their customers to toxic bisphenols: BPA or BPS.
The study found the following significant exposure levels. In fact, some of the results were a bit shocking and include:
- BPS or BPA in 93% of receipts tested by the lab
- BPS was in 75% and BPA in 18% of all receipt paper
- There was no coating on about 2% of receipts
- A newer alternative to BPS and BPA was at Bust Buys! Thank you!!
- High prevalence of BPS in both retail and service sectors (85% and 68% respectively)
- BPA receipts somewhat more common in the service sector (26%) than the retail sector (8%).
Bisphenol in Thermal Receipt Paper Store List
We pulled out the most national recognizable brands from a list of over 150 brands to give you a sample of which stores were contaminating their customers with BPA and BPS.
- 7 Eleven: BPA
- Aldi: BPA
- Arby’s: BPS
- Baja Fresh: BPS
- Barnes & Noble: BPS
- Bed, Bath & Beyond: BPS
- Ben & Jerry’s: BPA
- Best Buy: NO BISPHENOLS
- Burger King: BPS
- Chase Bank: BPS
- Chipotle: BPS
- Chuck E Cheese: BPS
- Claire’s: BPS
- Coldstone Creamery: BPA
- Costco: BPS
- CVS: BPS
- Dominos: BPA
- DSW: BPS
- Family Dollar: BPS
- Great Clips: BPS
- Home Depot: BPS
- Home Goods: BPS
- Justice: BPA
- Kroger: BPS
- Little Caesars: BPS
- Lowes: BPS
- McDonald’s: BPS
- Meijer: BPS
- Michael’s: BPS
- Panda Express: BPS
- Panera Bread: BPS
- Petco: BPS
- Pet Smart: BPS
- PNC Bank: BPS
- Rite Aid: BPS
- Sally Beauty: BPS
- Sears: BPS
- Shell Gas Station: BPS
- Staples: BPS
- Starbucks: BPS
- Subway: BPS
- Target: BPS
- Trader Joes: BPS (Note: Trader Joes is vowing to remove bisphenols from receipts but no timeline yet)
- Salvation Army: BPS
- Toys R Us: BPS
- Universal Studios: BPS
- US Post Office: BPS
- Vitamin Shoppe: BPS
- Walgreens: BPS
- Walmart: BPS
- Whole Foods Market: BPS
As you must have noticed, most nationwide stores made the switch from BPA to the sister chemical BPS. This demonstrates that brands are listening to you when you say you don’t want BPA in your products and food, and I’m sure they would like to make a BPA-free claim, but don’t let them. BPS is a sister chemical in the bisphenol family and she is just as mean as BPA is. At Mamavation, we refer to the bisphenol family as the “mean girls of the chemical world” for good reason.
What About “Dose Equals the Poison?”
Hundreds of studies have been done on bisphenols. Independent studies have shown that BPA and BPS, even in teeny tiny amounts can do damage to the endocrine (hormonal) system, especially to babies in utero, small children, and pre-teens going through puberty. The idea that “does equals the poison” is a toxicology rule that simply does not make sense in the world of hormones.
What’s so problematic about this idea is most of our rules and regulations of chemicals are still focused on “dose equals the poison” so the assumption is that only higher levels of these chemicals are doing damage. And that means they are not looking for low dose consequences, which are clearly happening and underscored by independent scientists. Therefore the answer is simple. When a chemical is categorized as an endocrine disruptor, it should be taken off the market. The levels of exposure won’t matter in terms of whether it will do harm. It’s going to. The industry profiting from the chemical will, of course, argue that “dose equals the poison” but again, that is based on an old understanding of science and old testing methods.
How to Avoid BPA/BPS in Thermal Receipt Paper
This study is actually very good news because it proves that there is something you can do to lessen the impact and amount of contamination of BPA/BPS within your body. There are some simple steps you can take to avoid contamination of BPA/BPS in the future.
- Ask the manager at the store if the thermal receipt paper is covered with BPA or BPS. It’s unlikely they will know but ask them anyway. Tell them you are trying to avoid this hormone-disrupting chemical and you would like for them to find out and then use different receipt paper in the future.
- Ask the store if they have the ability to email you the receipt instead.
- Sign the receipt paper without touching the paper. Not easy, but I’ve mastered it over the years. Your signature will start to look more like a scribble but that’s okay. It will still be approved.
- There’s an app for that! Download an app that takes a picture of your receipts instead and helps you organize your expenses. Hey, it may actually help you get organized BEFORE the mad rush to finish your taxes.
- NEVER allow your children to handle your receipts. I mean NEVER.
Were you aware that thermal receipt paper was a major exposure of BPA or BPS? If not, make sure to share this information with your loved ones so that they know how important it is to avoid handling thermal receipt paper as well. Also, are there any other stores you would like us to look into in the future? Let us know in the comments and we will follow up as soon as we extend this investigation.
For more information on how to avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals within your home pick up a copy of Green Enough: Eat Better, Live Cleaner, Be Happier (All Without Driving Your Family Crazy!). This book gives you step-by-step instructions on how to detox your home from chemicals that are linked to hormonal disruption and chronic disease.