Feature

Health scare of the week: Tainted store receipts

A recent study found that 40 percent of cash-register receipts from major retail outlets carry significant traces of the industrial chemical bisphenol A, or BPA.

The next time a store clerk offers you a receipt, think twice about taking it. A recent study found that 40 percent of
cash-register receipts from major retail outlets carry significant traces of bisphenol A, or BPA, an industrial chemical that lately has come under close scrutiny for its possible impact on health. Even low-level exposure has been linked to heart ailments, cancer, and behavioral and reproductive problems. BPA is widely used in plastics and as a coating in the paper used to make receipts. After analyzing receipts collected from ATM machines, supermarkets, chain stores, and gas stations, researchers at the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., found significant traces of BPA—as much as 1,000 times the amount detected in the linings of canned foods, another troubling source of the chemical. “I won’t touch receipts now,” researcher Frederick vom Saal tells The Washington Post. Three separate studies found that the BPA coating transfers easily to fingers and may even penetrate the skin.

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