The seemingly innocent piece of paper that a cashier rips off and hands to you after a transaction could be more harmful than you would think -- and we're not talking about paper cuts.
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A few years ago, it was publicized that the chemical bisphenol A, known as BPA -- the same chemical that has been banished from many reusable water bottles -- was in receipt paper. Now, a new study suggests that cashiers should actually wear gloves to avoid exposure.
A 2008 Food and Drug Administration report said there was “some concern for effects on the brain, behavior and prostate gland in fetuses, infants and children at current human exposures to bisphenol A."
Though the most concerning source of BPA exposure is diet, receipt paper is "an additional source that wasn't previously recognized," Dr. Shelley Ehrlich with the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center told Reuters Health.
Researchers evaluated the urine samples of 24 volunteers, then had them handle receipt paper with and without gloves over a specific time frame.
“We tried to simulate what a clerk does," Ehrlich told the Cincinnati Enquirer.
As a baseline of samples, BPA was detected in 83 percent of volunteers. It was then found in 100 percent of volunteers after they handled receipt paper without gloves. Conversely, the study did not detect an increase in BPA in volunteers after they wore gloves while handling receipts.
While Ehrlich said most customers shouldn't be worried about BPA exposure when they're handed a receipt, those in jobs that require frequently touching the thermal paper might want to protect themselves, especially if they're pregnant, Reuters reported.
"I don't think people should be super alarmed, but they should be aware," she said.
According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, the American Chemistry Council called the study's sample size "far too limited to determine if the handling of cash register receipt paper results in significant BPA exposure."
“The BPA exposure levels measured in participants of this study appear to be even lower than the levels found to cause no adverse effects in recent comprehensive research conducted in FDA’s laboratory,” Steven Hentges, an ACC member on its polycarbonate/BPA global group, told the Enquirer.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
(H/T: Scientific American)
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