Gender-Bending Chemical on Receipts

You’ve probably heard of BPA. If not, here’s a one minute lesson: Bisphenol A, also known as BPA has been known as a synthetic estrogen since the 1930’s.

“Bisphenol A is used primarily to make plastics, and products containing bisphenol A-based plastics have been in commerce for more than 50 years. At least 8 billion pounds of BPA are used by manufacturers yearly. It is a key monomer in production of epoxy resins and in the most common form of  polycarbonate plastic.  Polycarbonate plastic, which is clear and nearly shatter-proof, is used to make a variety of common products including baby and water bottles, sports equipment, medical and dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, eyeglass lenses, CDs and DVDs, and household electronics. (Wikipedia)

The problem is that it’s bad for our health. Not just bad like toxic and so we need to detox, but bad like it disrupts our endocrine systems because it mimics estrogen. So kids who are hitting puberty at earlier ages have BPA at least partly to thank for that. What ore other health effects of BPA?

Scientists have linked bisphenol A (BPA) to a higher incidence of heart disease, diabetes and liver abnormalities in adults as well as brain and hormone development problems in fetuses and young children. Other tests have shown that bisphenol A can promote human breast cancer cell growth, decrease sperm counts in rats, and cause erectile dysfunction and other sexual problems  in men. (Source)

OK, here’s where I was suprised, and hence decided to write this blog post on the evils of BPA. I found out another place it’s found almost all the time, and we who go out and about buying things from stores get on our hands….RECEIPTS. Yes, receipt paper. Almost all receipt paper from gas stations, fast food restaurants, etc contain bisphenol A.

And while it is too big a molecule to be absorbed through your skin, (only small molecules can get into skin cells) if you touch your food with BPA, the chemical gets in you. This happens when you eat canned food or touch your burger bun after taking your receipt. Just one receipt has more than 1000 times as much BPA as baby bottles or canned foods. (source)

The good news is that all you have to do is wash your hands after handling a store receipt before touching your mouth or handling food. Also, one company is starting to produce BPA-free receipt paper.

The tougher thing to do is to eliminate plastics in your environment. While it’s virtually impossible to get rid of all of them, there are many that we can live without. I recently came across a few individual-sized glass water bottles. Since I seem to get water spilled on my laptop, I have a new rule of no open water containers near the computer; this is a good solution for me since I need to have water nearby to drink.  I’ve also been trying to allow myself to feed the children on ceramic and glass instead of the plastic kids’ dishes we have; it does mean more broken dishes though. Definitely not as convenient.

Of course limiting or eliminating the use of canned foods (BPA in the lining definitely contaminates the food you eat) is a good thing; with some planning you can eat fresh or fresh-frozen veggies instead. They have more nutrition and taste as well.

What steps have you or could you take to eliminate some of the plastics or other BPA containing products  in your environment?