BPA Found in Cash Register Receipts

Shoppers and clerks are handling more than just food at the grocery store. A recent study found high levels of a controversial chemical in the paper receipts of many retailers nationwide. The Allegheny Front's Kara Holsopple has more.

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OPEN: Shoppers and clerks are handling more than just food at the grocery store. A recent study found high levels of a controversial chemical in the paper receipts of many retailers nationwide. The Allegheny Front's Kara Holsopple has more.

HOLSOPPLE: You may not expect to be exposed to a toxic chemical when a clerk hands you your receipt. †But an advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group, says the coating of some retail register receipts contains the chemical bisphenol-A, or BPA. †Their recent study finds BPA in 40 percent of a sample of receipts from grocers, coffee shops, gas stations and other locations.

BPA has been linked to cancer, reproductive problems and compromised neurological development. Lawmakers and the FDA are now looking into banning its use in products like baby bottles.

But BPA levels found in some register receipts were almost 1000 times higher than those that line many metal food containers. †Leeann Brown, at the Environmental Working Group, says thereís no way to tell how much exposure is too much.

BROWN:There really is no study that shows this chemical is safe. The argument is over at what threshold is it unsafe.

HOLSOPPLE: Exposure could happen through the skin, or through the mouth, if a baby pacifier rubs against receipt paper in a purse. †Brownís group says receipts could be why BPA is detected in the urine of 93% of Americans. †

Kent Willetts, with Appleton Papers, which no longer makes receipts with BPA, says replacing it is more expensive. †But he says consumer pressure may change the use of BPA in thermal receipt paper, where the chemical transfers heat into writing, replacing ink.

For the Allegheny Front, I'm Kara Holsopple.