Tags: BPA | chemicals | receipts | hand | sanitizer

Toxic Mix: Cash Register Receipts and Hand Sanitizer

By    |   Sunday, 19 July 2015 05:19 PM


Are you one of the millions of Americans who have switched to BPA-free bottles and other containers?

If so, that’s great. You’re reducing your exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic chemical that’s linked to a multitude of serious and life-threatening conditions.

But you’re probably still being exposed to shockingly high amounts of BPA from a source you may have never suspected: cash register receipts.

The glossy surface of thermal-paper receipts from restaurants, retail stores, self-service fuel pumps, and ATMs is full of BPA, which is an essential part of the thermal printing process.

If you touch this glossy surface more than a few seconds, you immediately start absorbing potentially harmful amounts of BPA into your body.

“Unfortunately, this is a chemical that’s perfectly designed to penetrate the skin,” says Frederick S. vom Saal, a University of Missouri-based researcher.

In a recent experiment, Dr. vom Saal and his team demonstrated that the threat is greatly magnified by use of skin products such as hand sanitizers, sunscreens, and moisturizers.

That’s because they often contain chemicals called “dermal penetration enhancers” that break down the skin’s protective barrier to enhance delivery of the products’ active ingredients.

“What’s scary about this is that practically everybody uses these products,” Dr. vom Saal tells Newsmax Health.

During the experiment, the researchers compared blood levels of BPA in volunteers who either did or did not apply a hand sanitizer before handling a receipt. In volunteers who used the hand sanitizer, BPA levels were up to 185 times higher.

“This is not a little effect,” says Dr. vom Saal. “It’s an absolute monster effect.”

BPA is hazardous because it mimics the female hormone estrogen. In both men and women, BPA activates estrogen receptors, which drastically increases estrogen production.

A chronically high estrogen level disrupts the male and female reproductive and endocrine systems, which increases the risk of many common diseases.

More than 60 epidemiological studies have confirmed that high levels of BPA are associated with altered thyroid function, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, impaired liver and kidney function, inflammation, hyperactivity, and impaired learning.

In men, high levels of BPA have been linked to reproductive effects such as reduced libido, lower sperm quality, and altered sex-hormone concentrations.

In women, high levels of BPA have been tied to reproductive effects such as polycystic ovary syndrome, infertility, miscarriage, and premature delivery. They’ve also been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer.

Women may be especially vulnerable to the BPA in receipts. “In our experiment, women’s BPA levels shot up faster and higher than men’s,” says Dr. vom Saal.

Beyond the obvious — avoid handling receipts after using personal-care products — here are some tips:

• Don’t accept receipts. When clerks ask if you want one, either say no or ask them to throw them in the garbage.

• Go with a paperless receipt via email when possible. This is an increasingly available option at many retailers.

• If you must handle a receipt, try to touch only the nonglossy backside. It contains much less BPA.

• Carefully store receipts. If you absolutely need a receipt, place it in an envelope. Its BPA will rub off on everything: your hands, pocket, wallet, or purse, even the folding money in your wallet.

• Quickly wash your hands after touching a receipt. Scrub with soap and water. If you wait longer than four minutes, it’s too late.

• Wear latex gloves if your job requires the frequent handling of receipts.

The full version of this article appeared in Health Radar newsletter. To read more, click here.




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Are you one of the millions of Americans who have switched to BPA-free bottles and other containers? If so, that's great. You're reducing your exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a toxic chemical that's linked to a multitude of serious and life-threatening conditions. But you're...
BPA, chemicals, receipts, hand, sanitizer
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2015-19-19
Sunday, 19 July 2015 05:19 PM
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