A version of this article previously appeared on The Eco Hub.
Have you bought a coffee today, maybe lunch, or a gift for that special someone? Odds are you got a receipt for that, right? Seems pretty innocent but in fact it’s not. Many receipts are printed on thermal paper, which has a slight sheen to it and a slippery feel and most of them are coated with BPA or BPS, chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system.
Muhannad Malas, the Toxics Program Manager at Environmental Defence, says:
“People today are constantly looking for healthier and safer products when shopping. But simply picking up the receipt when cashing out unknowingly exposes them to one of the very toxic chemicals that many people make an effort to avoid – BPA. Exposure to BPA is practically unavoidable when something like a sales receipt that people touch every day is coated with this toxin. This is probably one of the reasons why nine out of 10 Canadians are exposed to BPA every single day. Many women and teens, who are most vulnerable to the effects of hormone disrupting BPA, constantly handle receipts that are coated with this toxic chemical while on the job. In only one shift, a cashier could be touching receipts for a total of 10-15 minutes.”
5 things you can do to protect yourself:
1. Simply, don’t take the receipt if you don’t need it.
2. Keep your receipts separate from other items in your wallet or purse as the BPA on receipts easily transfers onto credit cards and other things that it comes into contact with.
3. Have a dedicated envelope or wallet slot for receipts when shopping.
4. Grab the receipt from the non-printed side (the back) and fold it or wear gloves when checking out (this can be easily done in the winter, but maybe not in the summer).
5. Ask your favorite local stores to switch to e-receipts instead.
The Problem with BPA
BPA has been in the news many times in Canada and the US in the past few years and after pressure from groups like Environmental Defence, the federal government in Canada banned the chemical in baby bottles and sippy cups, making Canada the first jurisdiction of many to take action on this chemical. BPA is also banned in baby food products in the US as well.
BPA is a known endocrine disruptor and reproductive toxicant that’s also linked to cancer.
Aside from BPA found baby products, there are no restrictions in Canada on the use of BPA in food cans made from metal, plastic containers or paper receipts.
In 2010, the feds said this about BPA, “Health Canada considers that sufficient evidence relating to human health has been presented to justify the conclusion that bisphenol A is harmful to human life and should be added to Schedule 1 of [the Canadian Environmental Protection Act],” the federal government reported in the Canada Gazette.
But then in 2012, Health Canada concluded that BPA doesn’t pose a health risk to the general population through food sources –the result of a limited and now outdated assessment. Regrettably, no further action has been taken to reduce our exposure to BPA through food and other sources.
“It’s clear that we need action now: recent data from the Canadian Health Measures Survey showed that over 90 percent of Canadian youth and adults already have concerning levels of BPA in their bodies. Babies are especially at risk as BPA is transmitted via the placenta and breast milk. Canadians who don’t have access to or cannot afford fresh produce are also at a disadvantage because they are likely to rely more on canned foods – a significant source of bodily BPA.”
This is super frustrating to say the least, but you can speak up! Sign this petition and demand an overhaul of Canada’s toxic chemical regulations. For more information on BPA uses and how you can reduce your exposure, check out this handy wallet guide for toxic chemicals.
In the USA, Trader Joe’s announced they would find alternatives to this harmful chemical, it would be great if Canadian business would follow.
If you are a new mom and really concerned about your baby’s toxic exposure, this is a great video on what one mom did to protect her baby from BPA.
What measures have you taken to protect yourself and your loved ones from BPA?
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Photo: The Eco Hub