“Thank you for shopping with us!!” says my receipt from a local vendor. But what do receipts really have inside them, scientists have discovered that cash-register receipts may actually cost extra.
Receipt paper looks like normal paper from the outside, but it’s actually coated with chemicals that change color when the paper is exposed to heat. This technique is a substitute of using ink.
One chemical, BPA (Bisphenol A), is often used in receipt paper. Scientists have found that BPA can pass through the skin and enter the human body.When it does, it can imitate natural hormones in the body that help control activities. BPA has been known to increase the chances of diseases like cancer and obesity.
A group of scientists tested different types of chemical-coated receipts with 77 cashiers. Some were coated with BPA, BPS (the “substitute” of BPA), and BPSIP. BPS is known to have similar effects to BPA, even worse. BPS can mimic hormones and affect brain development.
We don’t know much about BPSIP yet. It’s a chemical that manufacturers use for plastic containers, but it is not frequently used. However, BPSIP receipts handlers had the chemical in their blood more often then BPA or BPS.
Thirty-two of the cashiers used receipts coated with BPS. After working a shift, the average concentration of BPS in the urine of those cashiers had doubled.
For the 33 cashiers using BPA-coated receipts, BPA levels did not change much after working. The scientists predict that it is because people are exposed to BPA from so many other sources beforehand, like plastic containers.
Some companies have started inventing BPA-free receipt paper. However, these receipt papers most likely include BPS, which is supposedly worse than BPA.