Worrying Levels of Cancer-Linked Toxic Chemicals Are Found in Many Paper Receipts

We love finding natural, toxic-free alternatives to chemical filled items. We’ve been learning how to trade in the bleach and the Magic Erasers for lemons and bread. We’ve ditched any plastic items that contains BPA. We thought we were on the right track.

Then we found out about another item that contains toxic chemicals like BPA and BPS. While this is something that you get at most stores, it’s never something that will be on your shopping list.

We’re talking about paper receipts. Really. Studies have found that 18% of receipts contain BPA and 75% of receipts contain BPS. BPA is linked to health issues like hormone disruption, cancer, diabetes and ADHD. Many stores switched to coating their receipts with BPS due to the concerns about BPA, but it turns out that BPS may cause similar health issues.

Dalhousie University professor Vasantha Rupasinghe researches BPA and BPS. He said, “When we compare the two compounds at same concentrations what we found was the damage was pretty much the same.”

You might wonder if touching receipts for just a few seconds at a time really makes a difference. It’s not like you’re eating them or something. The answer is yes, holding a receipt really will cause BPA or BPS to be rapidly absorbed into your body.

In one experiment, researchers were careful to avoid all sources of BPA and BPS for two weeks. Then they took a urine sample to determine their levels of BPA and BPS. Next, researchers spent about 15 minutes touching a variety of receipts before they took another urine sample. The levels of BPA and BPS increased “upwards of more than a hundred-fold,” according to Muhannad Malas, toxics program manager at Environmental Defence Canada.

That’s pretty scary.

While many of us can just make a mental note to say “no thank you” when a cashier asks if we would like a receipt or to choose the option to send a receipt by text or email, you don’t have that luxury if you are the cashier. The reason the researchers held the receipts for about 15 minutes is that they estimated that’s probably about the total amount of time cashiers touch receipts on a daily basis.

Most cashiers and retail workers have no idea that there are toxic chemicals in the receipts that they touch every single day. If you have a job where you handle receipts, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start wearing protective gloves while you’re at work.

For more on this story, watch the video below.

Did you know there were dangerous chemicals lurking in receipts?