Smart discussion about toxics policy reform

A Little BPA Along with Your Change?

You stand in line with your latte, your tube of toothpaste or your cart of groceries, you hand over your cash or credit card to the cashier, and he hands you back the receipt. You check that the amount looks right, then stuff it in your pocket or purse. Maybe you pull it out later to make a record of your purchase and then toss it in the wastebasket or slip it into a file. And then — you forget about it.

You should give that little scrap of paper a second thought.

This spring, researchers at Environmental Working Group collected 36 samples of cash register receipts from fast food restaurants, big retailers, grocery stores, gas stations and post offices in seven states and the District of Columbia and had them tested by a renowned lab.  The lab found that 40 percent had high levels of the endocrine-disrupting chemical BPA, which has been the target of nationwide efforts to ban it in food and beverage containers, especially those used by babies and children. Animal tests show that BPA, a plastics hardener that is also a synthetic estrogen, can cause reproductive and behavioral abnormalities and lower intellectual ability, as well as setting the stage for cancers, obesity, diabetes, asthma and heart disease.

The tainted receipts tested by EWG came from a variety of well-known outlets including McDonald’s, KFC, CVS, Walmart, Safeway and Whole Foods.

The tests also showed that the BPA on the receipts could easily rub off onto the hands of anyone who handles them. That’s a potential worry for shoppers but even more so for the tens of thousands of store and restaurant workers who handled hundreds of receipts daily. Federal data analyzed by EWG shows that retail workers carry an average of 30 percent more BPA in their bodies than other adults.

As Jane Houlihan, EWG’s Senior Vice-President for Research, put it:

“A typical employee at any large retailer who runs the register could handle hundreds of the contaminated receipts in a single day at work. While we do not know exactly what this means for people’s health, it’s just one more path of exposure to this chemical that seems to bombard every single person.”

The source of the BPA is the paper used in these cash registers. This “thermal paper” is coated with a dye and a second chemical, which is often BPA. When a cash register imprints on the paper, its heats brings out the black lettering, avoiding the need to have ink in the printer.

EWG’s testing found amounts of EPA on receipts that were 250 to 1,000 times greater than in the more widely discussed sources of BPA exposure, especially canned foods, baby bottles and infant formula. Because the BPA in food is completely ingested, this remains by far the most worrisome route of exposure. It is unclear how much of the BPA that rubs off on skin gets into the bloodstream, but it’s likely to be a fraction of the total BPA on the paper.

What is clear, however, is that it wouldn’t be hard to get rid of the BPA in thermal paper. In fact, a number of the outlets sampled by EWG issued receipts that had no BPA or only trace amounts. They included such well-known companies as Target, Starbucks and Bank of America ATMs. And some big chains used BPA-laced paper in some outlets but not others. If they can get along without BPA-laden paper, there’s no reason everyone can’t.

For that matter, the leading U.S. maker of thermal paper, Appleton Papers Inc., no longer incorporates BPA in its products. Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched a program to evaluate the safety and availability of alternatives to BPA in thermal paper. (LINK)

EWG president and co-founder Ken Cook has written to the top executives of major retailers whose outlets issued BPA-laden receipts that figured in our study, urging them to switch to BPA-free alternatives for the sake of their employees and customers.

In the meantime, EWG has some advice for consumers:

  • Don’t let infants or children handle receipts.
  • Avoid paper receipts entirely when electronic or email alternatives are available.
  • If you save receipts, keep them in a separate envelope.
  • After handling receipts, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before preparing and eating food (and that’s a good practice even when you haven’t handled receipts).
  • Don’t use alcohol-based hand cleaners after handling receipts; they can increase absorption of BPA through the skin.
  • Don’t recycle receipts and other thermal paper. BPA residues will contaminate recycled paper.

(By the way, it’s easy to check whether a receipt is printed on thermal paper. Just rub it with a coin. The heat of the friction will discolor thermal paper, but not conventional paper.)

bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark bookmark

14 Responses to “A Little BPA Along with Your Change?”

  1. HLM says:

    Hi there- as a worker in a small retail store I handle tons of thermal paper. Where can we purchase BPA-free thermal paper while still using our same credit card machines? Also, since the risk for BPA is known, are retailers who knowingly use the paper liable for damages to the employees? Is OSHA involved?


  2. Lisa Canning says:

    Un bleeping believeable I’m so tired of all this contamination I just can’t tell you. I thought it was outrageous in the 60’s and 79’s but apparently we have learned nothing and have been asleep at the wheel.I would like to know how we dispose of all this toxic stuff that’s been created, safely.
    No wonder the Earth’s so ticked off.

  3. Hi, HLM,
    Since many retailers already use BPA-free paper, it should be widely available. I would start by asking your vendor to stock it if he doesn’t already. Alternatively, you could go directly to Appleton Papers Inc., which only makes BPA-free paper, and ask them for the name of a distributor/wholesaler who serves your area. Their website (see below) has a link to help you locate the companies that convert their large rolls to the smaller ones for end users. Other paper makers may also be able to tell you if they produce BPA-free paper and where to find it.

    Liability for using BPA paper is a big question mark. Although the risks of BPA are known, the risks of dermal (skin) exposure are still uncertain. Damages would also be hard to prove and specifically trace to the paper exposure.

    Appleton website link:

    • Nancy Rutigliano says:


      Just because Appleton says their thermal paper is BPA-free does not mean it is so. I sued Appleton and Mead Paper Company 20 years ago. I was diagnosed with formaldehyde sensitization from heavy use of carbonless copy paper. I was 23 years old and suddenly permanently disabled. My litigation dragged out for 7 years. During that time Appleton’s counsel told my attorney and I that we had no case, because Appleton does not use formaldehyde in carbonless paper. This rattled my attorney. I called my occupational & environmental health expert and she said Appleton uses phenol resins which give off formaldehyde gas. Not to worry.

      My case was dismissed at summary judgment. My expert was ruled inadmissable rendering all other treating phycians and toxicologist and economist moot. One of these doctors was the editor in cheif of The Archives of Env. Medicine and Professor at USC Keck School of Medicine. I was tested at his environmental health lab. He said my diagnosis was unequivocal. The judge didn’t think so therefore a jury never heard him or me or any other medical doctor. Appleton had better lawyers, thats all. Their defense was funded by Liberty Mutual and the BATUS group.

      Several years later two plaintiffs called me and said I had a NIOSH study in my case file. They pleaded with me to go through 21 boxes of documents. I did. I found 2,700 plus pages of confidential and highly confidential documents, studies and internal memos. Most were on the formaldehyde in Appleton’s carbonless products.

      As far as their BPA-free paper, ask the workers in the West Carrolton, Ohio plant if it is BPA free? Watch their case in Dayton, Ohio. It should be telling when it goes to trial. I learned from them about 3 years ago that the thermal paper was as bad as the carbonless paper. Quite possibly worse.

  4. Cendra says:

    How MUCH BPA? Even water is toxic in a large enough dose. Are their any studies on this toxicity?

    • Christine says:

      Cendra, does it matter how much BPA really? Why can’t we just do without it WHERE EVER we can. It is all around us, so wouldn’t it be nice if we could get rid of it anywhere that it is possible to. We have to start somewhere with getting it out of our world.

  5. Trish Hume says:

    How about addressing the dozens of other chemicals in the paper? BPA is the latest buzzword. I would like to the EWG test the paper for the other chemicals like the carginogens, the hormone disrupting ingredients or reproductive toxins and the neuro-toxic ones. DO you want the list?

  6. Trish Hume,
    We couldn’t agree more with your underlying concern. There are mixtures of chemicals in
    all kinds of consumer products, and with few exceptions, there is no requirement that companies make public what’s in their products, which chemicals get into our bodies or pollute the environment, and whether these exposures are safe. And, of course, we encounter combinations of chemicals in the myriad of products we use every day, not to mention contaminants in water, air, house dust… the possibilities go on and on.

    That’s why we need the Safe Chemicals Act of 2010. If it passes, the uses of chemicals uses and all available safety data would have to be made public. Companies would be required to prove that their products are safe before they’re sold. There would be enforceable safety standards to protect
    children and others who are most vulnerable. That won’t answer many questions about exposures to combinations or mixtures, but it’s a lot more information than we have now.

    (And sure, send us the list of chemicals in paper. We’re always interested in this kind of information. I’ll pass it on to our researchers. )

    • Trish Hume says:

      Carbonless Copy Paper Chemicals, Components, or Additives

      1,1′-azobis (cyclohexanecarbonitrile) 1,1′-azobis(cyanocyclohexane) 1,1-di-(t-amylperoxy)-cyclohexane 1,1-di-(t-butylperoxy)-3,3,5-trimethyl-cyclohexane 1,1-di-(t-butylperoxy)-cyclohexane 1,1-dimethyl-3-hydroxybutyl peroxyneodecanoate 1,3 butylene glycol diacrylate, 1,3 butylene glycol dimethacrylate 1,4 butanediol dimethacrylate, 1,4-butanediol diacrylate, 1,5-di(4-hydroxyphenylthio)-3-oxapentane 1,6 hexanediol diacrylate, 1,6 hexanediol dimethacrylate, 2 -acryloxy-1-methylethoxy-o-dihydro (3,6)-phthalic acid. 2-(2-oxoimidazolidin-1-yl-ethyl) methacrylate 2, 2′-azobis (isobutylnitrile) 2,2,4-trimethyl-1,3-pentanediol diisobutyrate (U.S. Pat. No. 4,027,065); C. 2,2′-azobis (2,4-dimethylvaleronitrile) 2,2′-azobis (methylbutyronitrile) 2,2′-azobis(2,4-dimethylpentanenitrile) 2,2′-azobis(2-methylpropanenitrile) 2,2′-methylene-bis(4-chlorophenol) 2,5-dimethyl 2,5-di (2-ethylhexanoyl peroxy) hexane 2,5-dimethyl-2,5-di-(t-butylperoxy)hexyne-3, cumene hydroperoxide 2-acryloxy -1- methylethoxy -o- dihydro – (3,6) – phthalic acid; allyl methacrylate 2-acryloxy -1- methylethoxy -o- phthalic acid 2-acryloxy ethoxy-o-phthalic acid 2-acryloxy-1-methylethoxy-o-phthalic acid 2-anilino-3-methyl-6-(ethyl-isopentylamino)fluoran 2-anilino-3-methyl-6-dibutylaminofluoran 2-anilino-3-methyl-6-dibutylamino-fluoran (U.S. Pat. No. 4,510,513) 2-anilino-6-diethylaminofluoran 2-(Benzothiazolylthio) Mthyl Thiocyanate 2-thiocyanomethylthiobenzothiazole (21564170) (TCMTB), 2-chloro-3-methyl-6-diethylaminofluoran 2-dibenzylamino-6-diethylaminofluoran 2-ethoxyethyl methacrylate 2-ethylhexyl acrylate 2-ethylhexyl acrylate. 2-ethylhexyl methacrylate 2-methoxyethyl acrylate 2-methyl butyl acrylate 2-phenoxy ethyl acrylate 2-phenoxyethyl acrylate 2-phenoxyethyl methacrylate
      2-(ThiocyanoMethylthio) Benzothiazole 3-(2-ethoxy-4-diethylaminophenyl)-3-(1-ethyl-2-methylindole-3-yl)-4-azapht halide 3-(N-ethyl-N-tetrahydrofurfurylamino)-6-methyl-7-[3,5′, 6-tris(dimethylamino)]spiro [9H-fluorene-9,1′(3’H)-isobenzofuran]-3′-one; 3-(N-methylcyclohexylamino)-6-methyl-7-anilino-fluoran (U.S. Pat. No. 3,959,571); 3-(p-dimethylaminophenyl)-3-(1,2-dimethylindole-3-yl)phthalide 3-(p-dimethylaminophenyl)-3-(2-methylindole-3-yl)phthalide 3,3-bis(1-octyl-2-methylindol-3-yl)phthalide 3,3-bis(4-diethylaminophenyl)-6-dimethylaminophthalide; 3,3-bis(4-dimethylaminophenyl)-6-dimethylaminophthalide (US Pat.Re. 23,024); 3,3-bis(p-dimethylaminophenyl)-6-dimethylaminophthalide 3,3-bis(p-dimethylaminophenyl)phthalide 3,3′-dichlorospirodinaphthopyran 3,3′-dimethyl-4,4’thiodiphenol. stearic acid amide 3,5-dimethyl-4-hydroxybenzoic acid 3,5-di-tert-butylsalicylic acid 3,6-dimethoxyfluoran 3.3-bis(p-dimethylaminophenyl-6- 2.00 dimethylaminophthalide (Crystal Violet Lactone) 3,3-bis(1-octyl-2-methylindol-3-yl)phthalide 0.60 3-diethylamino-6-methyl-7-(2’4-dimethylanilino) 0.30 fluoran (U.S. Pat. No. 4,330,473) sec-butylbiphenyl (U.S. Pat. No. 4,287,074) C.sub.11 -C.sub.15 aliphatic hydrocarbon 3-benzylsalicylic acid 3-benzylspirodinaphthopyran 3-dibutylamino-7-(2-chloroanilino)-fluoran; 3-diethlamino-7,8-benzofluoran; 3,3-bis(1-ethyl-2-methylindol-3-yl)phthalide; 3-diethylamino-7-dibenzylamino-2,2′-spiro-di-[2H-1-benzopyran]. 3-diethylamino-6-methyl-7-anilino-fluoran (U.S. Pat. No. 3,681,390); 3-diethylamino-7-(2-chloroanilino)-fluoran (U.S. Pat. No. 3,920,510); 3-ethylspirodinaphthopyran 3-isopropylsalicylic acid 3-methyl-2-anilino-6-diethylaminofluoran 3-methylnaphtho-(3-methoxybenzo)spiropyran. 3-methylspirodinaphthopyran 4,4′-bis(dimethylaminobenzhydrylbenzyl)ether 4,4′-isopropylidene-bis(2-tert-butylphenol) 4,4′-isopropylidenediphenol 4,4′-secbutylidenediphenol 4,4’thiodiphenol 4-hydroxyphenyl-4′-isopropoxyphenylsulfone 7-(1-ethyl-2-methylindol-3-yl)-7-(4-diethylamino-2-ethoxyphenyl)-5,7-dihyd rofuro[3,4-b]pyridin-5-one (U.S. Pat. No. 4,246,318); 7-(1-octyl-2-methylindol-3-yl)-7-(4-diethylamino-2-ethoxyphenyl)-5,7-dihyd rofuro[3,4-b]pyridin-5-one; 7,7′-bis(3-diethylaminofluoran) acrylalkoxy phthalic acid acrylate acrylate C18-22 acrylic acid acrylic acid-alkyl acrylate copolymers
      acrylonitrile-butadiene copolymers aka 3-dibutylamino-6-methyl-7-anilino-fluoran; 3-dibutylamino-7-(2-chloroanilino)-fluoran; akene glycol dimethacrylate alkene glycol diacrylate alkene glycol diacrylate, alkene glycol dimethacrylate, alkoxy (alkoxy) alkoxy (alkoxy) alkyl dimethacrylate, alkoxy (alkoxy).sub.n alkyl acrylate alkoxy (alkoxy).sub.n alkyl diacrylate alkoxy (alkoxy).sub.n alkyl dimethacrylate alkoxy (alkoxy).sub.n alkyl methacrylate alkoxy (alkoxy).sub.n alkyl triacrylate, alkoxy (alkoxy).sub.n alkyl trimethacrylate, alkoxy (alkoxy)n acrylate alkoxy (alkoxy)n methacrylate. alkoxy acrylate alkoxy alkanol diacrylate alkoxy alkanol dimethacrylate
      alkoxy (alkoxy).sub.n alkyl triacrylate, alkoxy (alkoxy).sub.n alkyl trimethacrylate, alkoxy (alkoxy)n acrylate alkoxy (alkoxy)n methacrylate. alkoxy acrylate alkoxy alkanol diacrylate alkoxy alkanol dimethacrylate alkoxy diacrylate alkoxy dimethacrylate alkoxy methacrylate alkoxylated cyclohexane dimethanol diacrylate
      alkoxy acrylate alkoxy alkanol diacrylate alkoxy alkanol dimethacrylate alkoxy diacrylate alkoxy dimethacrylate alkoxy methacrylate alkoxylated cyclohexane dimethanol diacrylate alkoxylated hexanediol diacrylate alkoxylated nonyl phenol acrylate alkoxylated tetrahydrofurfuryl acrylate alkyl acrylate-acrylic acid copolymer alkyl acrylates alkyl benzenes alkyl diacrylate alkyl dimethacrylate alkyl methacrylate alkyl or aralkyl benzoates alkyl peroxide alkyl triacrylate alkylated naphthalenes alkylbiphenyls such as propylbiphenyl (U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,627,581
      alkyldiol diacrylate alkyldiol dimethacrylate allyl acrylate allyl methacrylate, alpha.-cumyl peroxyneoheptanoate alpha-naphthol, beta-naphthol aluminum hydroxide amyl acrylate aralkyl acrylate aralkyl diacrylate aralkyl dimethacrylate, aralkyl methacrylate aralkyldimethacrylate aroxy acrylate

      barium carbonate Benzalkonium Chloride benzoyl peroxide benzyl acrylate benzyl benzoate; benzyl methacrylate benzylxylenes (U.S. Pat. No. 4,130,299); beta-naphthol benzyl ether bicycloalkyl acrylate bicycloalkyl diacrylate bicycloalkyl dimethacrylate bicycloalkyl methacrylate bis(3-allyl-4-hydroxyphenyl)sulfone butyl acrylate butyl acrylate-acrylic acid butyl diethyleneglycol methacrylate butyl diglycol methacrylate butylbiphenyl (U.S. Pat. No. 4,287,074);
      calcium carbonate caprolactone acrylate carboxymethyl cellulose casein cetyl acrylate cycloalkoxy acrylate cycloalkoxy diacrylate azo initiator cycloalkoxy dimethacrylate cycloalkoxy methacrylate cycloalkyl acrylate cycloalkyl diacrylate cycloalkyl diacrylate, cycloalkyl dimethacrylate cycloalkyl methacrylate cyclohexyl acrylate cyclohexyl methacrylate Davomet decanoyl peroxide di(2-ethylhexyl) peroxydicarbonate di(n-propyl) peroxydicarbonate di(p-chlorobenzyl) oxalate di(p-methylbenzyl) oxalate. di(sec-butyl) peroxydicarbonate dialkyl peroxide dialkylphthalates diarylmethanes dibenzyl oxalate dibenzyl terephthalate dibutyl phthalate dicyclopentenyloxyethyl methacrylate dicyclopentyl oxyethyl methacrylate diethylene glycol diacrylate, diethylene glycol dimethacrylate,
      dimethylol urea dinonylphthalate, dioctylphthalate, dipentaerythritol pentaacrylate dipropylene glycol diacrylate dipropylnaphthalene di-t-amyl peroxide di-t-amyl peroxyacetate ditridecylphthalate; ditrimethylolpropane tetraacrylate dodecyl benzene; ethoxylated bisphenol diacrylate ethoxylated bisphenol dimethacrylate, ethoxylated hydroxyethyl methacrylate ethoxylated nonyl phenol acrylate ethoxylated nonyl phenol acrylate neopentyl glycol dimethacrylate ethoxylated nonyl phenol methacrylate ethoxylated pentaerythritol tetraacrylate alkoxy acrylate ethoxylated trimethylolpropane triacrylate ethyl 3,3-di-(t-amylperoxy)-butyrate. carboxymethyl cellulose ethyl acrylate ethyl acrylate-acrylic acid ethyl-3,3-di-(t-butylperoxy)-butyrate ethyldiphenylmethane (U.S. Pat. No. 3,996,405); ethylene glycol dimethacrylate, ethylene glycol-m-tolyl ether ethylene-acrylic acid copolymers ethylene-co-maleic anhydride (EMA) ethylene-vinyl acetate emulsions fluorans gelatin anionic polymer glycidyl acrylate glycidyl methacrylate hexyl acrylat 8-Hydroxyquinoline hydroxyethyl cellulose indolylphthalides isobornyl acrylate isobornyl methacrylate isodecyl acrylate isohexyl acrylate isononyl acrylate iso-octyl acrylate iso-octyl methacrylate lauroyl peroxide lauryl acrylate lauryl methacrylate magnesium carbonate melamine formaldehyde methacrylalkoxy phthalic acid

      methyl acrylate-acrylic acid methyl cellulose methylated dimethyl urea methylated dimethylol urea methylated methylol melamine methylated methylol melamine resin Methylene Bis (thiocyanate) Methylene Dithiocyanate methylol melamine monoethanolamide of fatty acid N-2,4,5-trichlorophenyl leuco auramine n-decyl acrylate n-dodecyl acrylate neopentyl glycol diacrylate, neopentyl glycol dimethacrylate, N-halophenyl leuco auramine nitro-, amino-, amido-, sulfonamido-, aminobenzylidene- halo-, anilino-substituted fluorans
      n-octyl acrylate n-octyl methacrylate octyl acrylate-acrylic acid copolymers. alkyl acrylate oleic acid amide palmitic acid amide p-benzyl biphenyl perfluorooctanesulfonyl (PFOS) Scotchban biocide chemical pentaerythritol triacrylate peroxycarbonate peroxydicarbonate peroxyester peroxyketone phenol-formaldehyde novolak resin phenyl indol-,pyrrol-, and carbazol-substituted phthalides (U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,491,111; 3,491,112; 3,491,116; and 3,509,174); p-hydroxybenzyl benzoate polycarbonate resin polyester acrylate polyester methacrylate polyethylene glycol diacrylate polyethylene glycol dimethacrylate, polypropylene resin polystyrene resin polyvinyl alcohol polyvinylpyrrolidone. propoxylated glyceryl triacrylate propoxylated neopentyl glycol diacrylate propoxylated trimethylolpropane triacrylate propyl acrylate pyridine and pyrazine compounds (U.S. Pat. . 3,775,424 and 3,853,869) silicone oxide spirodipyrans (U.S. Pat. 3,971,808);
      spiropyrans stearic acid methylene bisamide stearyl acrylate stearyl methacrylate styrene-butadiene copolymers styrene-maleic anhydride copolymers styrene-methacrylic acid copolymer t-amyl perbenzoate t-amyl peroxy-2-ethyl-hexanoate t-amyl peroxyneodecanoate t-amyl peroxypivalate t-butyl perbenzoate t-butyl peroxide t-butyl peroxy-2-ethylhexanoate t-butyl peroxyacetate t-butyl peroxyneodecanoate t-butyl peroxypivalate t-butylaminoethyl methacrylate tetraethylene glycol diacrylate tetraethylene glycol dimethacrylate, tetrahydrofurfuryl acrylate tetrahydrofurfuryl methacrylate titanium dioxide trialkanol triacrylate trialkanol trimethacrylate triarylmethanes tridecyl acrylate tridecyl methacrylate triethylene glycol diacrylate triethylene glycol dimethacrylate, trimethylolpropane triacrylate trimethylolpropane trimethacrylate tripropylene glycol diacrylate urea and formaldehyde urea formaldehyde urea-formaldehyde resin vinyl acetate emulsions
      zinc oxide

  7. Diana Bauer says:

    Does anyone know if carbonless paper (Excel One by Glatfelter contains formaldehyde and
    BPA? I am touching it for hours each day.
    Shoudl I quit my job???

    • Yes, I would recommend quitting your job if your employer will not change to a plain paper (not recycled paper until they get the BPA out) or a paperless system. First, find out who manufactures the paper in your office. Then request a Material Safety Data Sheet on it. It is the law, so your employer has to furnish it. It will list the chemicals unless they claim trade secrets. My attorney called NIOSH and was told that it was likely five manufacturers who were responsible for my 5-part form in my office. In the end it was Mead and Appleton Papers. Yes, they use a resin that gives off formaldehyde vapors. The person separating the forms get the highest exposure via a plume-like effect. If the carbonless forms are from multiple outside vender it is hopeless.

      I was a dept manager and fleet manager in 1984 and 1985. I was diagnosed with an irreversible immune disorder and chemical brain injury from heavy use of carbonless copy paper. Twenty six years ago 10% of the population was easily sensitized to the chemicals. Today the experts are saying 25%. That figure does not include the cancer risk, autoimmune diseases and/or birth defects.

      My recommendation is to leave. You are risking your health and the health of your children. It may feel like a tough call in this recession, but is it worth it? Disability won’t pay your rent or mortgage.

    • Aurilee Beckwith says:

      There are a lot more nasty chemicals in carbonless paper then you list in your post. The manufacturers are required to provide MSDS to all employer requests. This is tricky. As a consumer you can not get it, but as a worker you can. It is an OSHA regulation.

      Good luck to you.

  8. Christine M says:

    What is also disturbing is credit card receipts and other glossy thermal papers are recycled into recycled content toilet paper. Research at Dresden University last year confirmed that because we use recycled content bathroom tissue, we are leaching BPAs into ground water and IT IS showing up in our tap water. Use tree free bathroom tissue that is renewable and sustainable. There are a few new ones that just came out!

  9. I can only comment on the carbonless paper. I am not in possession of accurate documentation on the single receipts except for the fact that they contain many of the same chemicals. However, there are former manufacturing employees who can speak to the latter. One who had actually mixed the chemicals for the receipt papers, said they made him sick. His wife had twins that died at birth. He is extremely ill now.

    NIOSH HAZARD REVIEW Carbonless Copy Paper (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health) December 2000, lists in Section 2 (The Technology Of CCP) pages 9 to 11, examples of the chemicals used in the formulation of CCP. Crystal violet lactone was in the list of dyes used in CCP listed in the first Federal Regester Notice. The “Dyes or other color formers” in the new 132 page document lists “phthalides led by CVL”. Other dyes and supporting chemicals used are PTSMH (p-toluene sulfinate of Michler’s hydrol), TMA (trimellitic anhydride) and phenol-formaldehyde resins (specifically alkylphenol novolac resin). Alkylphenol novolac resin was the topic of the JAMA article (JAMA 1988;260: 242-243) reporting anaphylactic shock from a 1/100% dilution of this chemical by workers who had become sensitized from CCP use. One of the test subjects nearly went into irreversible anaphylaxis when she was blind challenged for a second time.
    The CCP formulas can also contain azo dyes and DIPN (diisopropyl naphtalenes). DIPN shows up in many references including “Contamination of dry foods with trimethyldiphenylmethanes by migration from recycled paper and board packaging”, Sturaro, et. al. It seems DIPN never goes away in the recycling process. It leaches into foods that are not internally wrapped, including baby cereals. Too bad there hasn’t been a world-wide ban on recycling carbonless papers, even if they are “BPA free”.

    The NIOSH document also includes formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, diethylenetriamine (DETA) and hexamethylene diisocyanate, not to mention hydrocarbon-based solvents, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polyoxypropylene diamine, epoxy resins, aliphatic isocyanates, and let us not forget Bisphenol A. The dyes in carbonless copy papers may cause contact dermatitis in sensitive persons. The list of chemical examples used in CCP totals near 200, with over 50 solvents.

    Exposure to certain types of carbonless copy paper or its components has resulted, under some conditions, in mild to moderate symptoms of skin irritation and irritation of the mucosal membranes of the eyes and upper respiratory tract. Others have experienced sensitization to all of the chemicals in the product that they encounter in everyday life, rendering them disabled. Still others have experienced life-threatening responses, including anaphylaxis. One Anonymous letter sent to NIOSH during the first investigation stated that the worker had heart responses so severe that she had to take nitroglycerine to walk across the room in her office.

    The NIOSH recommendations are addressed in Chapter 6 of the document. Section “ 6.1 Historical Recommendations in the Scientific Literature” recommends :
    • Ensure adequate environmental conditions (including ventilation, temperature, and humidity control) in office, paper storage, and filing areas.
    • Avoid ingesting CCP chemicals by minimizing hand-to-mouth contact.
    • Do not rub eyes when handling CCP.
    • If symptoms occur, select a CCP with a different composition.
    • Substitute a mechanical-type paper (e.g., carbon paper) for a chemical-type paper (i.e., CCP).
    • Limit contact with CCP by spreading CCP-related work over a longer period or by reducing the amount used and/or stored in the workspace.
    • Employ proper housecleaning and good hand-hygiene procedures (including, occasionally, the use of protective gloves and/or hand creams).
    • Inform workers about the symptoms that have been noted by workers who handle CCP.
    • If you are a CCP manufacturer or importer, give exact data about the substances used and provide quality certificates for auxiliary substances, additives, and intermediate products used for each lot of CCP.

    In Section 6.2 “NIOSH Recommendations” include:
    NIOSH recognizes that it may occasionally be necessary to limit CCP exposure in certain workers through administrative controls (such as job rotation). But in most cases, implementing normal precautions and recommendations for maintaining acceptable indoor air quality should be adequate to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Good industrial hygiene and work practices are likely to prevent symptoms from potent irritants (such as formaldehyde) that may be emitted from CCP. These include adequate ventilation, humidity, and temperature controls; proper housekeeping; minimal hand-to-mouth and hand-to-eye contact; and periodic cleansing of hands.

    In addition, NIOSH recommends the following:
    • CCP manufacturers and their suppliers are encouraged to follow best practices, such as the Product Stewardship Code of Management Practices [American Chemistry Council 2000]; they should also consider enhancing their product guidance to reflect that published studies indicate that irritative symptoms appear to increase with increasing exposure to CCP.
    • CCP manufacturers and their suppliers should also consider how human test procedures (e.g., RIPT) can be modified by the use of standardized protocols that include proper controls (e.g., bond paper), tests that mimic high-use situations, and meaningful criteria for scoring and interpreting these tests to assess safety from skin contact (e.g., ASTM D 6355-98) [ASTM 1999]. Current best practices in the field of product testing may not be sensitive enough to identify mild skin irritants.
    • As part of ongoing surveillance, CCP manufacturers and their suppliers may want to evaluate the frequency and severity of irritation in workers using CCP.

    Furthermore, a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives provides new evidence that exposure to paper dust and carbonless copy paper in office work are related to increased risk of adult-onset asthma. We need to be looking at BPA and the other chemicals that are being inhaled and dermally absorbed.