No, taking a receipt isn’t going to hurt you.
No matter how many scientists and government agencies insist that the low levels of bisphenol-A (BPA) people are exposed to are safe, activists and journalists continue to needlessly scare the public about BPA exposure. This week, the Washington Post published a rather ridiculous article about the risk of exposure to BPA from store receipts.
The Environmental Working Group and other activists whip the media into a frenzy every so often by issuing “studies” showing that the majority of thermal paper receipts contain BPA. But even if touching a store receipt that contains BPA did result in exposure to the chemical, it’s highly unlikely that the low level of BPA is enough to cause any sort of harm. In fact, the Danish Ministry of the Environment recently examined the risks of BPA in store receipts and found that even in a realistic worst case scenario of BPA exposure—essentially if you spent all day touching receipts—“the maximum daily uptake of BPA has been calculated to be far below the level where damaging health effects are expected.”
The Post’s blogger, Lenny Bernstein, makes no mention of the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, and other health agencies have published numerous studies showing BPA’s safety. Instead of telling you any of that, Bernstein offers this sage advice from the Environmental Working Group: never give a child a receipt to play with and wash your hands before preparing food if you have handled a receipt. While both are clearly good tips in general, they don’t help consumers understand BPA and might even imply that BPA is more harmful than the science supports.
Regurgitating baseless fears about the safety of BPA from an environmental activist group without giving readers further context into the research surrounding BPA or the actual risk posed by handling receipts is simply lazy journalism.