Think of the number of times a day you likely find yourself touching or holding a receipt—after you get your morning coffee, during lunch when you sneak off from work to buy a pair of shoes, at night when you sign for your takeout delivery—it’s a lot. Which is why a new study that demonstrates that receipts contain chemicals that are pretty harmful feels absolutely scary to take in.
Researchers at the University of Missouri conducted a study on cash register receipts and found that they contain bisphenol-A—otherwise known as BPA—a chemical that’s used in plastic, and which studies have shown can increase the risk of cancer and have other damaging neurological effects to those who come in contact with it. The chemical is used in receipts to bind ink to the paper.
Researchers involved in the study first tested participants’ BPA levels before they had touched receipts, with some subjects even using hand sanitizer before. After touching receipts, some participants then ate french fries in order to imitate real life situations. The researchers again measured BPA levels. They found in both instances, BPA was rapidly absorbed through the skin—and up to 185 times more after holding a receipt for a minute or more.
The study’s author Frederick S. vom Saal said in the scientific journal PLOS One: “The chemicals used to make hand sanitizers, soaps, lotions, and sunscreen degrade the skin’s ability to act as a barrier and so act as skin penetration enhancers.” He also said: “BPA from thermal papers [such as receipts] will be absorbed into your blood rapidly”—even more so when hands were sanitized.
There is still quite a bit of research to be done on the topic, but still, we are thinking of maybe wearing gloves when dealing with receipts from now on.
Tell us what you think of this study in the comments below!