Get Bisphenol A Out of the Grocery Store (Are You Listening, Whole Foods?)
Photo credit yanyanyanyanyan via flickr.
Bisphenol A, which seems to contribute to a wide variety of yucky ailments, is in 91% of Canadians, this study shows. And as we've already documented in TreeHugger, it's not all that easy to avoid BPA in packaging, much less know whether it's lurking in the receipt the cashier just handed you. Here's the good news - a few grocery chains in Sweden have committed to taking the bisphenol A out of their register receipts. Why is that a big deal?Well, these three large grocery chains in Europe - ICA, Coop, and Axfoods, responded to the recent reports of BPA in register receipts by saying that they indeed do have BPA in their thermal receipts. But that also said they are planning to phase the chemical out, starting in the third quarter of this year. These three have the same supplier of thermal paper, and will phase it out for a BPA-free version in 2011.
This is indeed good news, as some experts have expressed the belief that receipts can have amazingly high levels of BPA, many times more than the common can of beans, and speculate that bisphenol can be easily absorbed through the skin by touching these receipts. TreeHugger's Pablo reccomends washing hands after handling receipts and before eating, and avoiding the use of alcohol-based sanitizers that can increase absorption of BPA.
Approximately 40% of receipts we handle are thought to contain bisphenol-A, according to the Environmental Working Group (EWG). EWG found that a sampling showed 'high levels' of BPA in receipts Chevron, McDonalds, CVS, KFC, Whole Foods, Safeway, the U.S. Postal Service, Walmart, and the U.S. House of Representatives cafeteria.
Target, Starbucks, Bank of America ATMs and the U.S. Senate cafeteria, appeared to be using receipt paper without BPA, EWG said.
But here's the rub. It's all just a question of money, just as it is with BPA free cans. BPA-free receipt paper does exist, and in fact the Appleton Paper Company one of the world's largest thermal paper companies, phased out the chemical back in 2006, citing concern for workers as the reason. That means that, for a little extra money, any company that currently uses BPA paper can make a switch.
According to the RealGreenGirl blog, Appleton replaced BPA with diphenyl sulfone, which she notes is not one of the 200 (out of 8,000) chemicals the Environmental Protection Agency has tested for safety. So there could be future questions about it.
But Axfoods, Coop, and ICA have led the way in phasing out BPA from register receipts. Now the U.S. giants need to go ahead and do the same. In fact, while we're dreaming...wouldn't a BPA-free store be nice?
Read more about the prevalence of bisphenol A at TreeHugger:
7 Companies You Can Trust to Be BPA Free
High Levels Of BPA Found In Cash Register Receipts, What You Can Do To Protect Yourself
More Bad News About Bisphenol A: It Interferes with Chemotherapy Treatments
Yet Another Bisphenol A Pile On