Much scientific research has shown that Bisphenol A (BPA) poses many health risks to humans. Among such risks include exposure to prostate and breast cancer, brain development abnormalities, reproductive system complications, and cardiovascular conditions. While food is often the primary source of BPA (because most of our foods come packed in BPA coated cans and plastic bags), thermal paper is also a common source of BPA.
BPA in thermal paper
In a study by The Environmental Working Group, high amounts of BPA were found in over 40% of receipts collected from fast food outlets, shopping malls, gas stations, and grocery stores. And as John Warner, Ph.D., of the Institute for Green Chemistry, says, a single thermal paper contains more BPA than a polycarbonate water bottle would release for years.

While it may be impossible to avoid using BPA coated receipts altogether, how then can you use thermal receipt paper healthily? This article has conclusively answered this question with the following seven tips:

1. Use nitrile gloves when handling the BPA-coated receipts

This is particularly useful to cashiers who have to hand out the receipts several times. Some studies found that cashiers who handed out thermal receipt papers had higher BPA levels than those who handed BPA-free receipts.

BPA can readily be absorbed through the skin, so it is advisable that you put on gloves not only when handing out the receipts but also when cleaning the receipt machines and changing the receipt rolls.

2. Keep thermal receipt paper away from other items

In case you need the receipt, fold it (the coated side on the inside) and put it in your bag or pocket away from any items like food, coins, or handkerchiefs. Also, avoid placing the receipts in your wallet. At home, remove the receipts and keep them in a sealed envelope, a sealed plastic bag, or in a drawer dedicated to receipts to avoid any contact with items you will need to use later on.

3. Do not handle thermal paper with greasy hands

Scientific studies have shown that alcohol-based cleaners and lotions increase the ability of the skin to absorb BPA. It is, therefore, advisable that you don’t handle these receipts with greasy hands. This also means that you should not wash your hands (before or after using the BPA-coated receipts) with alcohol-based sanitizers. Instead, use plenty of running water and soap.

Handling the receipts with wet handles can also increase the risks. Cashiers are therefore encouraged to see to it that their hands are dry when changing the receipt rolls and cleaning the receipt machines.

4. Avoid hand-to-mouth contact

Again, the most exposed groups of people here are the cashiers, store clerks, and cashiers who have to hand out receipts from time to time. While it may sometimes be involuntary to touch your lips after handling a receipt, it is advisable that you become more alert and avoid doing this. You can pick up and ingest BPA quickly through the mouth.

5. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling thermal paper

This is especially important before handling any food items, cooking, or eating. And as noted earlier, avoid using alcohol-based cleaners or hand-wash lotions to clean your hands. Use water and soap only. Another important thing to note here is that if you have to hand out a receipt, keep it as dry as possible. Avoid keeping the receipts close to, say, a moist glass or placing them directly on food.

6. Avoid handing a thermal receipt paper to the high-risk population

A study published in the American Medical Association Journal points out that BPA poses more risks to small children, infants, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. There is the need, therefore, to avoid exposing this population to the health risks that BPA presents as much as possible.

Ask pregnant women and nursing mothers if they need a receipt before handing it to them. Also, you can ask them if they would prefer it emailed to them. You should never give thermal paper receipts to young children or infants. At home, keep the BPA-coated receipts as far away from children’s reach as possible. You can, for instance, keep them in a locked drawer.

7. Do not recycle the BPA-coated receipts

Recycling these receipts means the BPA may end up with various products like paper towels or shopping bags. Again, the chemicals can end up in exhaust fumes or wastewater from the recycling plant. The best solution to this would, therefore, be getting your receipts emailed to you.

Conclusion

In this article, we have provided practical guidance for individuals, especially those frequently handling thermal receipts, such as cashiers and store clerks, to use these papers more safely. While complete BPA elimination from thermal paper may be challenging, adopting the recommended precautions, such as using gloves and avoiding hand-to-mouth contact, can significantly reduce risks. Additionally, considering high-risk populations, such as pregnant women and infants, by offering alternative receipt options is a responsible course of action. As a parting recommendation, we encourage you to take these steps and further safeguard your health by choosing BPA-free thermal paper products from our company to ensure both convenience and safety in your everyday transactions.

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About the Author: Frank Ouyang

Frank Ouyang is the sales manager at Panda Paper Roll Company - a leading factory of thermal paper rolls, label rolls, and other print-related products in China. With extensive experience in the industry, Frank is an expert in thermal paper knowledge and enjoys sharing his insights and expertise with clients, helping them achieve their goals and maximize their success.

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