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Cancer Health Center

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Study: BPA Is in Wide Variety of Paper Products

Chemical Bisphenol A Is Found in Napkins, Toilet Paper, and Cash Register Receipts

BPA in Recycled Paper continued...

Experts say such studies are suggestive, but not conclusive. And they insist that there's no danger from BPA in paper.

"These are trivial exposures," far below the tolerable safe levels of BPA set by the Environmental Protection Agency, says John Heinze, PhD, executive director of the Environmental Health Research Foundation in Chantilly, Va., a nonprofit organization that does research for the American Chemistry Council, an industry group. "They don't really raise any concerns for safety. That's really what their data show."

How Much BPA Do People Pick Up From Paper?

For the study, researchers tested 103 different thermal receipts collected from supermarkets, banks, libraries, gas stations, and restaurants in seven U. S. cities, South Korea, Vietnam, and Japan. Japan phased out the use of BPA in receipts in 2001.

Researchers also tested 14 other kinds of paper products including flyers, magazines, bus and train tickets, envelopes, newspapers, food wrappers and cartons, airplane boarding passes, luggage tags, printing paper, business cards, napkins, paper towels, and toilet paper.

Ninety-four percent of the thermal receipts tested positive for BPA, including some receipts that claimed to be BPA-free.

The levels of BPA detected on the receipts were much higher than for other paper products.

The highest concentration of BPA found among other kinds of paper was in tickets, followed by newspapers.

Researchers then estimated how much paper products might contribute to a person's total daily BPA exposure.

Cutting BPA Exposure

Based on their models, if an average person handled thermal receipts twice each day, and other kinds of paper five to 10 times a day, they'd get about 2% of their total daily exposure to BPA from paper products.

For cashiers, it was assumed they would touch receipts around 150 times a day, which could contribute as much as 51% of their daily BPA exposure.

Researchers say that if people want to cut their exposure to BPA in paper, they should be careful about how they handle receipts.

If you don't need one, don't take it, Kannan says.

If you do need a receipt, some retailers will email it.

If a hard copy is your only option, head to the sink soon after. "Whenever I touch a thermal receipt paper, immediately I wash my hands," Kannan says.

For cashiers, he says, wearing gloves would probably help cut the amount of BPA absorbed through the skin.

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