November 3, 2010
Here's another way that most ubiquitous of not-so-friendly chemicals, BPA, can end up in your body: via store receipts. Turns out that the thermal papers used to print most receipts are heavily infused with the chemical (up to 2% by weight, apparently). Tests have revealed that the BPA easily rubs off on your fingers as you handle the receipts.
As always, the perennial question is should you be worried? Maybe. Handle one receipt or so a day, and your exposure level will be well within the daily tolerance level established by (I believe) the FDA. However, people with wet fingers can pick up up to ten times as much BPA off the receipts. And, the presence of other chemicals on your hands commonly found in hand lotions (specifically, alcohol), can act as a carrier, drawing BPA through your skin and into your bloodstream much more efficiently.
The worst case scenario would look something like a pregnant cashier with lotion on her hands handling hundreds of receipts per day. Such a situation could potentially lead to harmful exposure levels, especially (obviously) to the fetus. Alternative papers are apparently in the works, so watch for a "BPA Free" tag on receipts in the future. Of course, there's no guarantee that these newer formulations will prove to be any safer. Via Science News.