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BPA chemical found on receipts, a health hazard, say experts

Experts from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) headquartered in US, found that receipts collected from stores and Automated Teller Machines (ATM) contain BPA chemical known to be harmful for human health.

EWG, a non-profit environmental organization specializes in environmental research and advocacy in the areas of toxic chemicals, agricultural subsidies, public lands and corporate accountability.

CBC News quoted Dave Andrews, senior scientist at EWG as saying, “The BPA is in much higher concentration in the receipts and much higher concentrations are available to be wiped off the receipts.”

Research details
EWG researchers collected 36 receipts from various ATMs, retail stores, fast food joints and gas stations in seven states along with District of Columbia.

The University of Missouri Division of Biological Sciences laboratory conducted ‘wipe tests’ to analyze the receipts for BPA on them.

The tests showed that the chemical could easily rub off on the hands and be absorbed into the skin and moved to the digestive tract by touching the mouth.

Furthermore, the total amount of BPA on receipts was found to be 250 to 1,000 times the amount usually found in a food can or plastic bottle.

According to previous researches, the chemical is used as a hardening agent in bottles and in liners of food cans.

Animal tests conducted earlier have linked BPA exposure to an array of health problems like: cancer, obesity, diabetes, and early puberty.

However, the studies are debatable and their relation with human health is unclear.

Expert advice
The EWG issued guidelines to reduce BPA exposure which included declining receipts at gas stations, ATMs and other stores when possible.

Experts also advise to keep receipts separately in an envelope in a wallet or purse and washing hands after handling them.

Also, alcohol-based hand cleaners should be avoided as they may raise skin’s BPA absorption, as found by a previous research.

Besides, keeping receipts away from children to avoid BPA exposure is advisable.

Additionally, one should take advantage of store services that email or store paperless purchase records.

Recycling receipts and other thermal paper is non-advisable as BPA deposits from receipts contaminate recycled paper.

Researchers also advise checking paper for thermal treatment by rubbing it with a coin. This friction discolors thermal paper whereas conventional paper remains the same.

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