Bad news, just as we head into the holiday season: Shopping may be hazardous to your health.
A new study finds that high levels of bisphenol A (BPA), a controversial chemical, are absorbed into the skin from touching cash-register receipts - and that those who use hand sanitizers before handling receipts may absorb even greater amounts of the chemical.
Thermal paper, frequently used in cash registers, is often coated with BPA.
According to the Environmental Working Group - which reported on BPA on cash-register receipts in 2010 - BPA is a synthetic estrogen that can disrupt the endocrine system, even in small amounts. It has been linked to a variety of health problems, including infertility, cancer, obesity, diabetes, early puberty and behavioral changes in children.
"Ever wonder why Americans are getting fatter? Could it be BPA, which is everywhere? Even in receipts? There are many studies to prove that BPA is to blame for our expanding waistlines. BPA is a hormone disruptor, it increases estrogen in our bodies - in men, women and children - it is even found in fish in the ocean from floating plastic bottles."
"Enough is enough. Isn't it time that we demand that chemical companies remove this chemical from our food and environment?"
The American Chemistry Council has released a response to the study that appeared in PLOS One.
"Due to the use of unrealistic experimental conditions, much of the data presented in this new study has very limited relevance to the potential for human exposure to BPA from handling thermal receipt paper,'' says Steven G. Hentges, of ACC's Polycarbonate/BPA Global Group, in a statement. "Although downplayed in the publication, the most relevant data shows very little BPA exposure under conditions most representative of real-life contact with thermal receipt paper."
The ACC also cites a study done in Finland, which found "no significant exposure to BPA from handling receipt paper using real-life exposure scenarios." Additionally, it makes reference to "biomonitoring data" from the CDC that demonstrates "consumer exposure to BPA from all sources is extremely low."
"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said unequivocally that BPA is safe for use in food contact materials. FDA's current perspective is based on its review of hundreds of studies, as well as its comprehensive research on BPA,'' says Hentges.
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