Harmful effects of Thermal Paper Receipts on Public Health

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Why are our purses still loaded with the receipts laced with cancer causing chemicals when there is an option to use digital receipts?

It may seem like a joke when someone says that a thermal paper receipt that you receive from the cash desk of a store can be harmful to your health. But this report by Center for Environmental Health, Oakland in California, will leave you shocked. 90 percent of the receipts contain Bisphenol A (BPA) or Bisphenol S (BPS), cancer causing chemicals.

Despite this our purses and wallets are filled with thermal paper receipts from petrol pumps, movies, grocery, retailers, to name a few and we handle them every day without realising the harmful effects of the chemical coated paper.

Consequences for health

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), in 2013, stated that the thermal paper receipts were the second highest source of bisphenol A after dietary sources in all population groups above 3 years of age. In Sweden, 2010 study found that thermal paper receipts contained 1000 times more BPA than plastic baby bottles.

BPA or BPS are endocrine disruptors which can be easily absorbed into our body when in contact with the skin. The absorption of the chemical is twice more in cashiers than in customers. Worse is that the absorption of the chemical in our body is 185 times more by handling it after using hand sanitizer. In addition, thermal paper receipts handled by the restaurant staff can contaminate food and dishes.

BPA, through skin exposure, can remain in the body for prolonged period, causing an accumulation that increases the risk of toxic effects. It should be noted that BPA is sometimes replaced by BPS or GMP, used as an alternative and yet harmful, especially for the environment.

The risks associated with the presence of BPA/BPS on these receipts should not be underestimated, because this compound is likely to lead to:

  • Hormonal imbalances

  • Increased risk of infertility, miscarriage and premature birth

  • Prostate cancer

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Behavioural disorders in children

  • Alteration of neurological development

  • Cardiovascular illnesses

  • Obesity

As early as 2011, doctors recommended that pregnant cashiers should not be exposed to BPA, BPS or BPF cash receipts because of the risks to the development of the foetus.

Regulatory Action Around the Globe

Here are some eye-opening announcements about BPA which is used in 90% of the thermal receipts across the world [1].

  • The first phase-out of BPA in thermal paper took place in Japan around the start of the millennium – even before it became a legal requirement. In Taiwan, BPA was banned on thermal papers in 2011.

  • In the US, some states have voted on bills banning BPA on thermal receipts. Enacted in July 2011, Connecticut Senate Bill 210 prohibits the manufacture, sale or distribution of thermal receipt paper or cash register receipt paper containing BPA. Other states are considering the adoption of the same position.

  • On 1st June 2019, Switzerland became the first European country to ban both bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S (BPS) on thermal paper – in a concentration of 0.02% or higher by weight [2].

  • In the EU, three countries have taken national action against the use of BPA on thermal paper: Belgium, Sweden and France. France has initiated several European efforts to regulate BPA for all kinds of uses, which have changed the classification of the substance from “reprotoxic suspect” to the more severe “toxic for reproduction”, which entered into force in August 2016. Additionally, France used the European chemical regulation REACH to put forward a restriction proposal for the use of BPA on thermal paper. The proposal has passed through all legislative bodies and in December 2016 it was decided that BPA may not be placed on the European market on thermal paper at a concentration equal to or greater than 0.02% by weight after 2 January 2020. This applies to all producers and importers, which means that there is a ban on BPA on thermal paper for the European market from 2020 and onwards.

As much as we need the Government’s intervention to ban thermal paper receipts from our everyday life, we also need the retailers and customers to make a conscious effort by saying “NO” to thermal paper receipts and adopt a technological solution like Invoiz, to ensure a sustainable and healthier future.

Reference

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