News & Updates
Concern over toxic BPA in cash receipt rolls...
Concern over toxic BPA in cash receipt rolls prompts call for switch to BPA-free rolls
An advocacy initiative of the Centre for Child Honouring regarding the use of Bisphenol-A in cash register receipts has taken a leap forward with the release of research findings overseen by Philip Landrigan who heads the Children's Environmental Health Center, and is Dean for Global Health, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. Dr Landrigan is also a board member of the Centre for Child Honouring on Salt Spring Island.
Centre founder, Raffi Cavoukian brought the matter to Dr. Landrigan’s attention after coming across an article about the concerns over absorption of BPA by retail workers as well as shoppers, and he has also been advocating at the local level.
“ When I brought the issue to the attention of our local health food store Natureworks, a few months ago, I was pleased to see that they immediately replaced their existing thermal cash rolls with BPA-free rolls. I encourage all our local shops to make the switch, while the Centre continues to advocate internationally on this issue,” said Raffi.
In a letter to Raffi, Dr. Landrigan writes: “We have now completed a formal analysis of the problem and also submitted a report to the State Legislature in Connecticut to persuade them to ban the use of receipts containing BPA.”
Dr. Landrigan forwarded Raffi the report “developed by one of our young physicians, a brilliant young woman who happens also to be Canadian – Andrea Wershof Schwartz, MD, MPH. She is a Beluga grad. I thought you would like to see the attached fruits of your inspiration.”
The US-based report notes:
“…retail workers are indeed exposed to higher levels of BPA than other American adults, with average blood concentrations of BPA levels one third higher in retail workers.
…while research continues into the potential effects of BPA in cash receipts, the EPA is seeking safer alternatives for American consumers and workers.”
Dr. Landrigan is a leading pediatrician and international expert in children’s environmental health. In 1999 he invited Raffi to present Child Honouring at a conference—Environmental Influences on Children—at the New York Academy of Medicine.
Full Report Below:
Children’s Environmental Health Center, New York / Feb. 22, 2011
BPA in Cash Receipts
BPA is considered a ‘high production volume’ chemical in the USA, with American production estimates ranging from 800,000 metric tons[i] to about 1 million metric tons per year, a 2 billion dollar industry.[ii] Canada does not produce its own BPA.i In comparison, as of 2003 there were about 2 million tons of BPA estimated to be produced worldwide.[iii]
The amount of BPA used in thermal paper, the type used for cash receipts, makes up a negligible percentage total BPA production, so small, in fact, that it does not seem to be tracked by BPA producers and chemical consulting firms. For example, a representative of one of the leading American BPA manufacturers, Hexion Specialty Chemicals (formerly Shell), which produces about 140,000 metric tons of BPA per year, stated the following in an email correspondence: “Thermal paper and cash receipts is a VERY small end use for BPA. I don't have any numbers.”[iv] And a representative of Chemical Market Associates Inc. (CMAI), a private consulting firm that tracks upstream and downstream products of BPA in order to estimate total production, stated the following in an email correspondence:
“The vast majority of BPA is used for the production of polycarbonate which is primarily used to make CD/DVDs and in construction and automotive applications, or for the production of epoxy resins which are primarily used in protective coatings or plastics composites for things like wind turbines. The amount of BPA used for cash receipts is so small that we do not track it. It would be a fraction of a percentage of overall BPA use.” i
Despite making up such a small percentage of BPA use and market share, BPA in cash receipts may have a large potential public health impact. A study by the Environmental Working Group found “substantial amounts of BPA on 16 of 36 receipts at an average amount of 1.9 percent by weight, and a range of 0.8 to 2.8 percent”.[v] A more recent study found 8 of 10 receipts to contained measurable levels of BPA.[vi]
There is some recent evidence that BPA may be transferred from cash receipts to skin, but evidence is lacking as to whether it can be absorbed from the skin in to the blood stream in significant amounts.[vii] For workers exposed regularly to cash receipts, however, the possibility of a harmful chronic exposure remains. According to the US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the two largest occupations in the USA are retail salespersons and cashiers, who represent 1 of every 17 jobs.[viii] In an analysis of CDC biomonitoring data, the EWG found that retail workers are indeed exposed to higher levels of BPA than other American adults, with average blood concentrations of BPA levels one third higher in retail workers.[ix]
There is good news, though. Since 2006, the largest producer of thermal receipt paper in the USA, Appleton Papers Inc., has not been using BPA in its thermal papers.[x] And the EPA has begun a “BPA Alternatives in Thermal Paper Partnership”, which includes representatives Thermal Paper Manufacturers and Converters, Chemical Manufacturers, Retailers and Trade Associations, among others.[xi] So while research continues into the potential effects of BPA in cash receipts, the EPA is seeking safer alternatives for American consumers and workers.