BPA in Receipts: The Real Price

“A study published July 11 by Swiss scientists found that BPA transfers readily from receipts to skin and can penetrate the skin to such a depth that it cannot be washed off.”

Perhaps you’ve heard the news that BPA – a synthetic estrogen disruptor – can travel into your body via store receipts. Like me, you may be wondering: how much? which stores? and, how? I’m surprised at how little information is being spread about this issue. Many people who are avoiding BPA in bottles and canned food aren’t even aware of this basic information. Surprising, since “scientists found that the total mass of BPA on a receipt is 250 to 1,000 times greater than the amount of BPA typically found in a can of food or a can of baby formula, or that which leaches from a BPA-based plastic baby bottle into its contents.” I was one of those unaware people – I cautiously avoided BPA plastics in my daughter’s baby bottles and foods, but was unknowingly exposing her to BPA in receipts, which I even let her play with (!!!) before I found out.

A few receipt BPA samplings from the Portland metro area

Here’s a link to two very informative studies from the environmental working group: Synthetic estrogen BPA coats cash register receipts, and New Study Confirms BPA in Receipts, that tell you exactly which stores are using BPA in their receipts and exactly how much.  Are you as surprised as I was to hear that Whole Foods is one of those retailers? I would think that they would care more about the safety of their customers, not to mention their employees. We can avoid handling the receipts. Cashiers have no choice, and I can only imagine the amounts of BPA that would be in your system after an eight hour shift. Shouldn’t it fall under basic workers rights to not be exposed to toxic chemicals? Unfortunately our government is having a hard time recognizing BPA as toxic. On the Whole Foods blog, the Whole Story on April 6, 2011, a Whole Foods representative reported via the comments section that all stores have switched to BPA free receipts. However – the largest manufacturer of non-BPA receipts, Appleton Manufacturing of Wisconsin, embeds red fibers into their receipts so that consumers can know they are safe. I have not seen any red fibers on my Whole Foods receipts. And if they truly have switched to non-BPA paper, why wouldn’t Whole Foods want to make a public statement about this advance in customer and employee safety? I am unable to find any official statements from Whole Foods on this issue.

By the way, if you are a Whole Foods shopper, you may want to take a moment and read through the comments section of the BPA-related blog link above. Some great answers and information as to what products are safer than others in their stores. But, please keep in mind while reading that “BPA free” plastics can still contain toxic chemicals.

I sincerely appreciate the Environmental Working Group and their excellent research and activism in this area.

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  1. Talie
    May 6, 2011

    This is horrifying! I just went to New Seasons and asked about their receipts…of course they have BPA-free receipts. Yet another reason to patronize that amazing store. The cashier literally finished my sentence. I asked “Do you know if your receipts have, um…” and she broke in with “Our receipts are BPA-free”. Clearly it’s an important issue that they’re on top of.

    • jen
      May 6, 2011

      This is so good to know about New Seasons! It would be interesting to collect info on which stores in the Portland area do and don’t use it. I’d rather just not patronize a store that’s using them.

  2. April
    May 6, 2011

    You have got to be kidding me?! I had no idea…it is everywhere! No way am I letting the kiddos play with the receipts now too.

    I remember the year that the info about the BPA in Nalgene bottles came out. I woke up one Saturday morning, grabbed a giant trash bag and threw out everything in the kitchen that had any plastic in it! That was a mighty big bag…

    Thanks so much for the info Jen, what a great website you’ve built.

  3. Ella
    Aug 26, 2013

    I’m a cashier, there is no getting around this. :(

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