How to Avoid BPA Exposure from Cash Register Receipts

What is Bisphenol A (BPA)

Baby pic with carbon molecules around it Bisphenol A (BPA) is a carbon-based synthetic industrial chemical which exhibits hormone-like properties that raise concern about its suitability in some consumer products and food containers. BPA is used to make polycarbonate, a hard, clear plastic, which is used in many consumer products.

Why is BPA scary

BPA was found in food packaging since 1960s made with this synthetic estrogen, shown to leach readily into infant formula, beverages and canned food. The chemical (BPA) mimics human estrogen in the body, and can “disrupt” the body’s hormone, or endocrine, system. Studies link BPA to health effects on the brain, behavior & prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children, breast cancer, diabetes, and obesity, as well as hormone abnormalities in children. One study found that more than 90 percent of Americans have some level of it in their urine. Learn more at Mayo Clinic.

But most Americans are probably unaware that they are regularly exposed to the same endocrine-disrupting chemical in cash register receipts.

Is Your Receipt BPA Free?

"BPA Free doesn't mean that they are free from the chemical Bisphenol." BPA is only 1 of the many compounds they use on thermal paper. BPA Free means they changed the compound to either BPC or BPS both of which are Endocrine disruptors like BPA.

Tips to reduce exposures to BPA in receipts:

  • Ask for the receipt to be emailed to you. Then provide them your IQBoxy email address for processing of that receipt. This receipt will end up in your app within seconds of being received.
  • If no email option exists at gas pumps, ATMs and other machines, decline it and take a photo of the total using your IQBoxy app and record it manually.
  • Never store receipts in a wallet or purse. Scan it using IQBoxy and throw it away asap.
  • Never give a child a receipt to hold or play with.
  • After handling a receipt, wash hands before preparing and eating food. With water & soap, not alcohol-based hand cleaners which increase the skin's BPA absorption (Biedermann 2010).
  • Take advantage of store services that email paperless purchase records. Give them your IQBoxy email address.
  • If unsure, check whether paper is thermally treated by rubbing it with a coin. Thermal paper discolors with the friction; conventional paper does not.

It may seem like a futile effort, a few simple steps can help you limit your interaction with the chemical. It starts with downloading and using the IQBoxy app. Get it for free from here:

References / Appendix

Would you like your receipt? Maybe not, if it’s still coated with BPA. (August 6, 2014)

Check Your Receipt: It May Be Tainted (November 1, 2011)

How to Avoid BPA Exposure from Cash Register Receipts

  • "Environmental Working Group (EWG) research report have shown that measurable levels of BPA are still being found on thermal paper receipts used for cash registers and credit card/debit machines."
  • "There's no way to tell if a thermal paper receipt contains BPA or not, so unless governments ban BPA from receipts, it's up to consumers to limit exposure whenever possible.”

BPA Coats Cash Register Receipts (July 27, 2010)

  • "Two-fifths of the paper receipts tested by a major laboratory commissioned by Environmental Working Group were on heat-activated paper that was between 0.8 to nearly 3 percent pure BPA by weight. Wipe tests conducted with a damp laboratory paper easily picked up a portion of the receipts' BPA coating, indicating that the chemical would likely stick to the skin of anyone who handled them. The receipts came from major retailers, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, fast-food restaurants, post offices and automatic teller machines (ATMs).”
  • "Foods, Walmart, Safeway and the U.S. Postal Service. Receipts from some major chains, including Target, Starbucks and Bank of America ATMs, issued receipts that were BPA-free or contained only trace amounts."
  • "Thermal paper is widely used for point-of-sale receipts, prescription labels, airline tickets and lottery tickets. Thermal printers use paper that is coated with a dye and developer (BPA or an alternative chemical). Heat from the thermal printing head triggers a reaction between the dye and developer, allowing the black print to appear.”

You’re Absorbing BPA From Your Receipts, Study Shows (February 25, 2014)

  • "Two hours after touching the receipts without gloves, the BPA levels in the participants' urine was significantly elevated, rising from 1.8 micrograms of BPA per liter to 5.8 micrograms per liter.” … "After 8 hours, the study authors tested some of the gloveless participants again, and found that the BPA levels went up to 11.1 micrograms per liter, an almost five-fold increase."