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Study: Paper Money Contains Traces of BPA

Researchers Say the Chemical Gets Into Money From Contact With Cash Register Receipts

How BPA Gets on Money continued...

Cashiers may absorb higher levels of BPA than other people because of their constant contact with both cash and receipts. "Further studies are needed to assess exposure among cashiers and others who come into frequent contact with paper currencies," Kannan says.  

Cashiers should consider protective gloves while handling receipts and currency, he says. Now Kannan and colleagues are analyzing levels of BPA in other household paper products such as newspaper and toilet paper.

Andy Igrejas, national campaign director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families in Washington, D.C., says the new findings confirm and broaden previous research about levels of BPA found in the money supply.

"There is only so far that we can go in protecting ourselves from these chemicals because exposures are so ubiquitous and involve things that are hard to avoid, like money," he says.  "The answer has to come from looking at the big picture of aggregate BPA exposure."

Robin M. Whyatt, DrPH, a professor of clinical environmental health sciences and the deputy director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health in New York City, says any health risks associated with BPA in money may be highest for cashier and bank tellers.

"Cashiers and bank tellers who handle money on an eight-hour a day basis may have a reasonable amount of absorption," she says.

There are a lot of unanswered questions about BPA exposure and the risks associated with such exposure, she says. "There is a lot of controversy about the potential health effects of the health risks of BPA and studies are under way."

Perspective of Chemical Industry

Steven G. Hentges, PhD, of the Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group of the American Chemistry Council, a trade group in Arlington, Va., says paper currency is expected to carry traces of many substances and microorganisms.

"Finding trace levels of BPA in currency is neither surprising nor a concern," he tells WebMD via email.  "Human exposure to BPA from contact with paper currency is minor and orders of magnitude below science-based safe intake levels set by regulatory authorities worldwide."

"Furthermore, available data suggests that BPA is not readily absorbed through the skin," he says.

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