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Issues Of The Environment: BPS And BPA In Store Receipts

Jan 17, 2018

Shopping Receipt
Credit Max Pixel / freegreatpicture.com

When people go shopping, they usually take home a receipt.  But did you know those receipts could be hazardous to your health?  In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's Patrick Campion speaks to Lauren Olson, Science Campaign Director for Healthy Stuff at the Ecology Center, about the discovery of dangerous chemicals found in store receipts.


Overview

  • Ecology Center's Healthy Stuff program tested 200 receipts from a variety of businesses in Southeast Michigan and beyond. 93% of all receipts were coated with BPA or its toxic cousin BPS. Healthy Stuff tested receipts from a range of businesses, including restaurants, stores, libraries, post offices, banks, grocery, gas stations.

  • BPA and BPS rub off receipts and pose health risks to cashiers that handle hundreds of receipts a work shift. Cashiers can handle as many as 30 receipts an hour, hundreds of receipts during a work shift. BPA and BPS are not chemically bound to the receipt and are absorbed through the skin, entering the bloodstream in minutes.

  • Most businesses are moving away from BPA receipts, but the regrettable substitute BPS is now in the majority of receipts. BPA and BPS have shown similar health effects as endocrine disruptors. They found that most (75%) have bisphenol S (BPS) and another 18% of the receipts tested had bisphenol A (BPA).

  • A small percentage of businesses had uncoated paper or used alternative chemicals. Safer receipt paper is available and is a drop-in alternative. Electronic receipts may offset any additional costs. Best Buy has taken the lead and is using a receipt paper without toxic BPA and BPS.

  • Lauren Olson, one of the lead authors on this research, says that Healthy Stuff tested 41 receipts from 26 Trader Joe’s locations in 16 states and found the same results-- BPS receipt paper. They tested 10 Meijer receipts from 7 locations in Michigan, and they were all BPS-coated paper. Her campaign is calling on retailers Meijer and Trader Joe’s to eliminate toxic chemicals from their receipt papers. Both stores do not have a corporate chemicals policy and use BPS-coated receipts.

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— Patrick Campion is the WEMU Program Director.  You can contact Patrick at 734.487.3363, on twitter @WEMUPC, or email him at pcampion@emich.edu