Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you

Are there Toxic Chemicals in Your Wallet?

on July 25, 2011

Having been in the supermarket business for 20 years and handling what seems like millions of receipts, this new study has me concerned.  Did you know that receipts that you get at the ATM, gas station, supermarket, and other retail stores might contain BPA?

What is BPA and why should you be concerned?
Bisphenol A or BPA for short has been controversial for years.BPA is a substance that interferes with your hormonal system and has been linked to a variety of problems from heart disease to testicular damage.  This endocrine disruptor mimics estrogen and has been found in clear hard plastic like baby and water bottles as well as the lining of food and beverage cans. Now it appears that BPA is as close as your wallet in the form of receipts.

Studies have shown that 40 percent of receipts contain BPA, some up to 1,000 times higher than what is found in the lining of a can. 

Do we need to worry?  “For the general population, especially for infants and children, we still believe food containers [plastics containing BPA and canned food with BPA-containing liners] are the primary source of exposure,” says Anila Jacob, MD, MPH, senior scientist at EWG and one of the report’s authors. “But we do think receipts are a potentially significant source of exposure, especially for the millions of people in the retail industry.” Cashiers and salespeople sometimes handle hundreds of receipts a day, every day they work, she adds, so for them it poses a significant risk.”

What remains unknown, Dr. Jacob says, is how much BPA the average person absorbs after coming into contact with a receipt. It’s easy to assume that someone could ingest BPA after handling a receipt and then eating soon afterwards, or by placing a receipt in a grocery bag where the BPA can rub off onto unpackaged produce, she says, “but we just don’t know how much that contributes to our overall exposure.”

So- what can we do to reduce our exposure?
1- Just say “no”  Do you really need the receipt?  If not, turn it down
2-Don’t keep receipts in your purse or wallet.  Put them in an envelope or bag
3-Don’t put receipts in the recycle bin.  BPA can rub off on items that will be recycled into food containers
4-Wash your hands frequently but avoid hand sanitizers.  A recent study shows that the use of hand sanitizers actually helps increase absorption of BPA into the skin, which is a huge concern as cashiers use hand sanitizer constantly. 

Bottom line- is it time to freak out? No, but it is good to be aware until more studies are done.  If you want more information- click HERE for an excellent article on the dangers of BPA and how to avoid them.

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