JAMA: Handle Receipts with Care

Feb 26, 2014

The Journal of American Medical Association has released a new study which suggests people who handle thermal receipts -- such as receipts from ATM machines or at gas stations -- are exposed to the chemical Bisphenol A, or BPA.

And exposure to the chemical has been associated with reproductive health problems in adults and problems with brain development in children.

University of Rochester scientist Dr. Emily Barrett studies the influence of various chemicals on development.

She says the study showed people handling receipts for two hours had highly elevated levels of BPA.

Barrett says they don't have definitive proof handling receipts can lead to adverse health effects in humans, but scientists agree there's enough evidence to suggest exposure to BPA is harmful, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

She agrees with the JAMA report that suggests wearing gloves can limit BPA exposure from thermal receipts.

Barrett adds before she knew of this, her children wanted to handle receipts. Now, she says, she doesn't pass the receipts along to them.

The American Chemistry Council issued this response to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association:

While this small-scale study is far too limited to determine if the handling of cash register receipt paper results in significant BPA exposure, it does suggest that consumer exposures to BPA, including occasional contact with thermal paper receipts, are well below safe intake levels established by government regulators around the world.

“The BPA exposure levels measured in participants of this study appear to be even lower than the levels found to cause no adverse effects in recent comprehensive research conducted in FDA’s laboratory.

“Many government bodies around the world have evaluated the scientific evidence on BPA and have declared it safe as used in food contact materials.  For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently updated its position on BPA in June of 2013, responding to the question, ‘Is BPA safe?’ with one unambiguous word: ‘Yes.’”