Thermal paper has become an integral part of our daily lives, facilitating the printing of receipts, tickets, and labels across various industries. However, the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in thermal paper has sparked concerns and debates regarding its potential impact on human health and the environment.

In this comprehensive article, we’ll delve into the unexplored areas of BPA and thermal paper, tracing their origins, examining their impacts, and exploring potential replacements.

Key Takeaways

  • Understand BPA and BPS: Learn about the potential health risks associated with BPA and BPS, commonly found in thermal paper.
  • Prioritize Health: Take proactive steps to reduce exposure to BPA and BPS, especially in business settings where thermal paper is frequently used.
  • Choose BPA-Free Alternatives: Opt for BPA-free thermal paper options to minimize health risks for both employees and customers.
  • Implement Safer Practices: Implement measures like using gloves when handling thermal paper to reduce direct contact with BPA and BPS.
  • Educate Employees and Customers: Raise awareness about the risks of BPA and BPS in thermal paper and encourage safe handling practices.
  • Stay Informed: Stay updated on the latest research and recommendations regarding BPA and BPS exposure to make informed decisions for your business.

What are BPA and BPS?

BPA in Thermal Paper


Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical primarily used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. It has been employed since the 1960s and is found in a variety of consumer products, including water bottles, food containers, and metal cans.

In thermal paper, BPA functions as a color developer that reacts with colorless dyes (thermal coating) when heat is applied, causing them to turn dark and produce the printed image. BPA is favored for this application because it is an effective developer and relatively inexpensive.

However, BPA can be absorbed into the body through the skin. The chemicals have been shown to be hazardous to reproductive systems in humans and animals and are linked with obesity and attention disorders. For example, workers who frequently handle thermal receipts, such as cashiers, may be at higher risk of BPA exposure through skin absorption. Young children may also be exposed to BPA through hand-to-mouth behaviors after handling receipts.

The Emergence of BPS

Bisphenol S (BPS) can be considered a brother of BPS. It is a chemical compound structurally similar to Bisphenol A (BPA) and is increasingly being used as a substitute for BPA in various applications, including thermal paper for receipts and other printed materials.

BPS has been adopted as a replacement for BPA in thermal paper due to concerns over the potential health effects of BPA. However, studies have shown that BPS may also exhibit endocrine-disrupting properties and potentially harmful effects on reproductive systems, brain development, and immune function, similar to BPA.

Health Risks of BPA and BPS in Thermal Paper

Health Risks of Thermal Paper

Both BPA and BPS are endocrine disruptors, meaning they can interfere with the body’s hormonal systems. Here are some of the key health risks associated with exposure to BPA and BPS, particularly through thermal paper:

  1. Hormonal Disruption: BPA and BPS can mimic estrogen, a hormone that regulates many processes in the body. This mimicry can lead to imbalances and disruptions in hormone-dependent processes, affecting reproductive health and development.
  2. Developmental Effects: In utero exposure to BPA can affect fetal development, potentially leading to behavioral changes, altered brain development, and increased risk of developmental disorders. Although less studied than BPA, BPS is believed to have similar effects on reproductive health and fetal development, potentially leading to issues such as altered reproductive organ development and reduced fertility.
  3. Cancer Risk: There is some evidence to suggest that BPA exposure may increase the risk of certain cancers, particularly breast and prostate cancer, due to its estrogen-like activity.
  4. Environmental Impact: BPA and BPS from thermal paper can leach into water bodies and soil through landfill runoff, wastewater, and improper disposal of receipts and paper products. They are relatively persistent in the environment and do not readily degrade. This persistence increases the likelihood of long-term environmental contamination.

Regulations and Laws on BPA & BPS in Thermal Paper

To address these health concerns, several countries and regions have implemented or proposed regulations and laws to phase out or restrict the use of BPA and BPS in thermal paper.

In the United States, several states, including Connecticut, Minnesota, and Washington, have enacted laws prohibiting the sale and distribution of BPA-containing thermal paper, with phase-out dates ranging from 2023 to 2026. In California, California’s Proposition 65 requires businesses to provide warnings about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm, which includes BPA.

In the EU, under the REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation, and Restriction of Chemicals) regulation, The EU has enforced a ban on BPA in thermal paper since January 2020, limiting BPA content to 0.02% by weight, effectively banning its use.

Ways to avoid BPA and BPS in Thermal Paper

To protect yourself from potential exposure to BPA in thermal paper, on a broader phase, consider these actions:

  1. Opt for Digital Receipts: Decline paper receipts for transactions that don’t require them. Opt for digital receipts when possible, or choose to receive receipts via email or text message instead of paper receipts. Use mobile apps that can store digital copies of receipts, helping to avoid the need for physical copies altogether.
  2. Minimize Contact: Reduce unnecessary handling of thermal paper receipts.
  3. Handle with Care: When handling thermal paper, avoid prolonged contact and try not to touch your mouth, nose, or food immediately afterward. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling receipts, especially before eating.
  4. Use Gloves: If you work in an industry where handling thermal paper is unavoidable, consider wearing gloves to minimize direct skin contact.
  5. Choose Phenol-Free Options: Look for thermal paper products labeled as BPA-free and BPS-free. While this labeling isn’t common, some manufacturers may provide this information on their packaging or websites.
  6. Be Informed: Stay informed about the latest research on BPA and thermal paper. Keep an eye out for any new developments or regulations regarding BPA use in consumer products.

By adopting these strategies, you can significantly reduce your exposure to BPA and BPS from thermal paper, contributing to better personal health and environmental safety.

How Can You Tell if Thermal Paper is BPA-Free?

Determining if thermal paper is BPA-free can sometimes be challenging because the chemical composition is not always clearly labeled. However, here are some tips to help you determine if the thermal paper is likely to be BPA-free and BPS-free:

  1. Contact the Manufacturer: The most reliable method is to check the information provided by the thermal paper manufacturer or supplier. You can even ask for thermal paper certificate or specification sheet from them.
  2. Check the Packaging: Some manufacturers may label their thermal paper as “BPA-free” or indicate it on the packaging. Look for any statements or symbols on the product packaging that suggest the paper does not contain BPA.
  3. Lab Test: You can also send the thermal paper samples to a lab test service, such as SGS. They can conduct a test on your thermal paper samples to detect if BPA is contained within.
  4. Industry Trends: Be aware of the trends in the industry and region. For example, in the European Union, there are regulations limiting the use of BPA in thermal paper, making it more likely that thermal paper used in these countries is BPA-free. Awareness of such regulations can give you an indication of the likelihood of BPA presence in thermal paper.

While these tips can help you make more informed choices, it’s important to note that thermal paper alternatives, such as those labeled as BPA-free, may still contain other chemicals, like BPS, which could have similar health concerns.

Final Remarks – Buy BPA-Free Thermal Paper from Panda Paper Roll

BPA-Free Thermal Paper

Panda Paper Roll can supply the real BPA-Free thermal paper rolls Source: Panda Paper Roll

It is important to be aware of the fact that BPA and BPS in thermal paper can cause harm; similarly, it’s time to figure out ways to reduce your exposure. Businesses and consumers can both start on this by choosing BPA-free thermal paper and applying some measures that will be helpful to their health.

At Panda Paper Roll, we are committed to producing high-quality thermal paper that prioritizes both human health and environmental sustainability. Utilizing advanced coating technology, we manufacture thermal paper without the use of BPA or BPS. Our innovative approach ensures that we deliver superior thermal paper while maintaining our responsibility to protect the environment. Panda Paper Roll stands at the forefront of the industry, balancing excellence in product performance with a dedication to safety and ecological preservation. If you are looking to order BPA-free thermal paper products, please contact us for more information.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are BPA and BPS?
    BPA (bisphenol A) and BPS (bisphenol S) are synthetic chemicals used in the production of plastics and thermal paper. They work as color developers in thermal paper, reacting with dyes to produce a dark image or text.
  2. How are they harmful to humans?
    BPA and BPS exposure has been linked to various health issues, including reproductive disorders, developmental problems, and an increased risk of certain cancers. These chemicals can leach from products such as thermal paper receipts and contaminate food and beverages.
  3. What are the ways to avoid BPA and BPS in thermal paper as a consumer?
    To reduce exposure to BPA and BPS from thermal paper, consider using electronic transactions when feasible, storing receipts separately from food items, and washing hands after handling receipts. Choose products labeled as “BPA-free” or “phenol-free.”
  4. How do I know the paper I am using is BPA-free?
    BPA-free thermal paper looks the same as regular thermal paper. Check the product label, manufacturing, coating, and ingredients, or ask your supplier to confirm if the paper is BPA-free. Third-party testing labs like SGS can also verify the BPA content in thermal paper samples.

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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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