Study finds high levels of toxic chemical in paper receipts

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by Meredith Yeomans

azfamily.com

Posted on August 5, 2010 at 9:33 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 5 at 9:40 PM

PHOENIX - “We've gotten a lot of phone calls about BPA free paper,” Mike Rapier said.

Mike Rapier, who owns Liberty Paper Products, a paper distribution company in south Phoenix says more and more consumers are expressing concern about BPA.

“We've taken the steps to be a BPA-free plant,” he said.

Mike says he decided to make the switch after learning about the variety of health hazards linked to the controversial chemical, bisphenol-A, commonly known as BPA.

“Ranging from cancer, obesity, asthma, heart disease, reproductive toxicity, neurological toxicity,” Leeann Brown with the Environmental Working Group said.

If you've ever looked up information about BPA, you know it is commonly found in canned foods and water bottles.

But, a new study by Washington D.C.-based Environmental Working Group reveals BPA is now showing up in cash register receipts.

“We collected 36 receipts in total from major retailers across the U.S. in 7 states and D.C.,” Brown said.

The Environmental Working Group says tests showed extraordinarily high levels of BPA found on 40% of the receipts. According to the report, 'high concentrations of BPA were found in at least one of several samples from Chevron, McDonalds, CVS, KFC, Whole Foods, Safeway, the U.S. Postal Service, Walmart, and the U.S. House of Representatives cafeteria. Other well-known outlets, including Target, Starbucks, Bank of America ATMs and the U.S. Senate cafeteria, appear to be using receipt paper without BPA.'

In some cases, the amount of BPA was 1,000 times the levels found in a can of food.

“BPA is certainly a chemical that Americans should be concerned about,” Brown said.

What can consumers do?

You can make small changes to avoid over-exposure to BPA, like not keeping receipts in your purse or wallet, and washing your hands after handling receipts.

Mike Rapier recently started using a "BPA free" stamp on the back of his receipt paper, so consumers can see exactly what they're getting.

“Over the next 6 months, it’s going to be a very big issue,” he said.

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