A new report, "On the Money: BPA on Dollar Bills and Receipts", has found that 95% of US dollar bills are contaminated with trace amounts of Bisphenol A. The chemical, which is also found in plastics, aluminum cans, thermal paper receipts, and elsewhere, is a known hormone disruptor, and has been linked to cancer. It's still legal and widely used here in the states. The report also hones in on how BPA is transferred from product to person:From the report:
Unlike BPA in baby bottles and other products, BPA on thermal paper isn't chemically bound in any way: it's a powdery film on the surface of receipts. Data from this report indicate that this highly toxic chemical does not, in fact, stay on the paper, but rather easily transfers to our skin and likely to other items that it rubs against. "Our findings demonstrate that BPA cannot be avoided, even by the most conscious consumer," said Erika Schreder, Staff Scientist at the Washington Toxics Coalition and lead author of the report. "This unregulated use of large amounts of BPA is having unintended consequences, including exposure to people when we touch receipts."If these researchers' findings are accurate, then BPA is an even thornier issue than previously thought -- if it's everywhere cash is, then, as the report points out, it's out of the consumer's control whether she or he comes into contact with the chemical. We can decide not to buy plastic bottles or aluminum cans that contain BPA. It's tougher to eschew money itself.
Present in 93% of all Americans, scientists studying BPA have hypothesized the major route of human exposure is through food, as BPA is used as a liner in nearly all canned food and beverages. This study indicates that skin absorption from thermal paper receipts with unbound BPA may lead to exposure at levels equivalent to exposure from food sources.
And it's all the more reason for the FDA to get on the ball and take a serious look at BPA, pronto.