Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Study: BPA Is in Wide Variety of Paper Products

Chemical Bisphenol A Is Found in Napkins, Toilet Paper, and Cash Register Receipts
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Dec. 2, 2011 -- It seems there's no escaping the chemical bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to make plastics like water bottles and to coat the insides of aluminum cans.

Now a new study shows that BPA is also in a wide variety of paper products, including napkins, toilet paper, tickets, food wrappers, newspapers, and printer paper.

"The concentrations are very high in the paper products," says study researcher Kurunthachalam Kannan, PhD, a research scientist at the New York State Department of Health.

Kannan tested more than 200 paper samples from 15 different types of products.

He found BPA levels in paper that were 100 to 1 million times higher than amounts detected in canned and packaged foods.

The study is published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Researchers say that because only a fraction of that is absorbed through the skin, most people probably pick up far less BPA handling paper than they do from their diets.

But those amounts may wind up being significant for people like cashiers or printers who have to touch a lot of BPA-tainted paper as part of their jobs.

"We've been focused on food, but there could be certain groups of people that could be exposed through other routes and other sources," says Joseph Braun, PhD, a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, who is studying how BPA may affect kids' behavior. He was not involved in the latest study.

In Braun's studies, pregnant women who worked as cashiers had BPA levels that were about 30% higher than pregnant women who had different kinds of jobs.

BPA in Recycled Paper

How did BPA get into paper? Probably recycling, researchers say.

A thin coating of powdered BPA is used on some kinds of heat-sensitive paper, like cash register receipts, shipping labels, and lottery tickets.

Researchers estimate that tossed thermal paper contributes about 33.5 tons of BPA to the environment each year.

About 30% of thermal paper winds up being recycled, introducing BPA into many different kinds of items.

That's concerning, researchers say, because BPA is chemically similar to the hormone estrogen. It has been linked to problems with reproduction and sexual development, to behavioral and developmental problems in young children, and to some kinds of cancer.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
Lung cancer xray
See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
Ovarian cancer illustration
Real Cancer Perspectives
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
what is your cancer risk
colorectal cancer treatment advances
breast cancer overview slideshow
prostate cancer overview
lung cancer overview slideshow
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
Actor Michael Douglas