What is BPA

Businesses urged to cease use of till receipts containing potentially harmful chemicals

What is BPA?

BPA is a low-cost industrial chemical used for the coatings on thermal paper (the paper that till receipts are made out of) because of its stability and heat resistance. BPA is an endocrine disruptor, meaning that it can interfere with the system in the human body that produces and manages hormones. 

Handling till receipts that contain BPA can lead to absorption of the chemical through the skin. There are concerns that frequent exposure may have adverse reproductive health effects. This is particularly concerning for anyone who handles till receipts on a daily basis, such as checkout operators and retail assistants. As the chemical is not readily biodegradable, there is also concern that it could accumulate in our waterways and make its way into the food chain.

BPA was first raised as a chemical of concern in baby bottles, where it was voluntarily phased out by major Australian retailers in 2010. While there are no plans to restrict use of the chemical in till receipts in Australia, despite regulations in place in Europe*, Alliance Paper has opted to use alternatives to BPA of its own accord.

Is exposure to BPA dangerous?

Based on studies of the health effects of BPA on animals and extrapolating to humans, BPA is undoubtedly hazardous at high levels of exposure. Humans are exposed to much lower levels of BPA in their day-to-day lives, and scientific opinion is divided over what risk, if any, that level poses to humans. However, there is growing scientific evidence that even at these lower levels of exposure, BPA may be causing problems such as infertility, obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

By Rachael Ridley Planet Ark July 2, 2019