Cash Receipts Pose BPA Risk of Health Problems

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High levels of the plastic-hardening chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) have been found on the cash receipts of fast-food restaurants, gas stations, ATM machines and big-box stores.

The Environmental Working Group tested 36 receipts for contamination by the chemical, and found that the thermal paper was rife with BPA, which was easily transmitted to the fingers and hands that held the receipt.

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BPA has long been suspected to play a part in the development of diabetes, breast cancer and heart disease. Earlier in the year, the FDA recommended that infants and children should have limited exposure to the chemical, and supported the removal of the chemical from infant bottles and feeding cups.

The position of the FDA has changed since they deemed it safe in 2008, and the agency's latest statement regarding BPA now says, "recent studies have reported subtle effects of low doses of BPA in laboratory animals. While BPA is not proven to harm children or adults, these newer studies have led federal health officials to express some concern about the safety of BPA."

States, such as Minnesota, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Illinois, have become concerned about the effects of BPA, and have banned the chemical from products that would be used by children.

After the latest findings of BPA on cash register receipts from McDonalds, Walmart, CVS, KFC, Whole Foods and Safeway, the Environmental Working Group recommends that consumers keep the handling of receipts to a minimum and decline them whenever possible. Other recommendations include the need to refrain from using alcohol-based hand cleaners after holding a receipt, as they have been shown to accelerate absorption by the skin tissue, and wash hands before touching food.

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