Cancer Causing BPA on Your Favorite Store's Receipts

KC Kelly Ph.D.'s picture

Cash register receipts have been found to have a chemical on them called Bispheno-A (BPA), which is a cancer causing agent. According to Forbes Magazine, BPA is an endocrine disruptor which is not only linked to cancer, but also to reproductive problems as well as other physical ailments. Who would have thought?

John C. Warner, an organic chemist who formerly worked for Polaroid discovered last year, that many receipts contain a large amount of BPA. His revelation became huge talk. Although Warner got big coverage from press on this finding, he did not want to publish his findings for two reasons. His reasoning was that he had a lack of data on the issue. His other, according to Forbes was his dedication of "not preaching about the bad but about diligently trying to invent the good."

Sometimes it is necessary to preach about the bad in order to find the good. Environmental Working Group (EWG) stepped in at this point, when taking note of Warner's discovery and his unwillingness to publish the data for further studies and public awareness. The EWG is a green health nonprofit. They talk about the bad in order to invent good and according to Forbes, they released a report showing "not only how much BPA is on these cash receipts but also which companies are giving out the most tainted receipts."

These were the companies that showed the most amount of BPA on their receipts: McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, CVS, Wal-Mart, Safeway and the United States Postal Service. It was shocking when it was discovered that one store in the Whole Foods chain had BPA on it. People could get the BPA from touching the receipt on their hands, peel an organic orange, for example and end up eating the poisonous BPA. A McDonald's Happy Meal purchased in Clinton, Connecticut back in April showed approximately thirteen milligrams of BPA on it.

Company receipts that do not contain the chemical BPA on them are from Bank of America ATM's, Target and Starbucks.

The EWG quoted a study done this July, "The amount of BPA that enters the body after a person handles a receipt is unknown but likely a fraction of the total BPA on the paper." BPA can also be absorbed into the skin, according to a study done by the Official Food Control Authority of the Canton of Z├╝rich in Switzerland. They stated, "This raises the possibility that the chemical infiltrates the skin's lower layers to enter the bloodstream directly."

The EWG recommends that people decline receiving receipts as much as they can in order to avoid the possibility of handling BPA and possibly ingesting it from licking their hands or touching food eaten directly after handling a receipt. The also recommend hand washing before eating and if a receipt is received, store it in a separate envelope and make sure to wash hands after handling them. When washing hands, avoid the alcohol-based hand cleaners and use soap and warm water instead.

According to Forbes, more companies are said be on their way to producing receipts that do not contain BPA. The "U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has initiated a program to evaluate the safety and availability of alternatives to BPA in thermal paper," they shared. It is unknown how long this will take or how long it will be before there is an anti-BPA law.


Submitted by Amy Cannon (not verified) on
Hi there, Sounds like there is some misunderstanding of John Warner's data. He submitted his results for publication in a peer reviewed journal months ago. It took time to go through the publication process. Here is the link, it is available open access:

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