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Monday, January 13, 2020

More Reasons to go Paperless

Going paperless in general has the advantage of saving paper and reducing waste - don’t get a printed copy of what you don’t need. 
But there’s an extra reason to say ‘no’ to printed cashier receipts: "When people handle receipts printed on thermal paper containing the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A (BPA), the chemical could linger in the body for a week or more (Environ. Sci. Technol. 2017, DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b03093)," reads the article from Chemical & Engineering News.

Consumer Reports adds, "Food is the top source of BPA exposure simply because so much of what we eat and drink comes packaged in BPA-containing plastic containers or cans (BPA is in the linings). But the form of BPA used in food containers is chemically bound, while the type used in thermal paper easily rubs off."  (https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/03/the-health-risk-of-bpa-in-receipts/index.htm).
In that same article, John Warner, Ph.D., president of the Warner Babcock Institute for Green Chemistry, warns that "There's more BPA in a single thermal paper receipt than the total amount that would leach out from a polycarbonate water bottle used for many years," and the article goes on to inform readers that "Some manufacturers make “BPA free” thermal paper, but it’s often coated with a chemical called BPS. According to a 2014 report from the EPA, BPS may pose health hazards similar to BPA because the two chemicals are structurally alike and BPS is also easily transferred to skin." 

For the sake of our health, the best thing to do is to try to reduce our exposure to those chemicals, but how can we do that?

In a blog post, the Plastic Pollution Coalition compiled the following list:
  • Be aware that thermal paper discolors easily when scratched with a coin or paperclip.
  • Don’t accept receipts whenever possible.
  • Go with a paperless receipt via email or text message. This is an increasingly available option at many retailers.
  • If you must handle a receipt, try to touch only the nonglossy backside. It contains much less BPA.
  • Carefully store receipts. If you absolutely need a receipt, place it in an envelope. Its BPA will rub off on everything: your hands, pocket, wallet, or purse, even the folding money in your wallet.
  • Quickly wash your hands after touching a receipt. Scrub with soap and water. If you wait longer than four minutes, it’s too late.
  • Wear latex gloves if your job requires the frequent handling of receipts.
  • Don’t use a hand sanitizer after touching a possible thermal receipt - in a recent experiment, Dr. vom Saal and his team demonstrated that BPA levels went up to 185 times higher, “an absolute monster effect,” after the use of skin products such as hand sanitizers, sunscreens, and moisturizers. These products often contain chemicals called “dermal penetration enhancers” that break down the skin’s protective barrier to enhance delivery of the products’ active ingredients.
After reading about this, who doesn't want to say goodbye to receipts and try to go paperless?