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Why Your Receipts May Be Toxic

Why Your Receipts May Be Toxic


The next time you buy something, think twice before holding the receipt generated on thermal paper. There is a high chance you may be exposing yourself to an endocrine disrupting chemical — Bisphenol-A (BPA).

 

A study conducted by environmental NGO Toxics Link states that thermal paper — which is commonly used in receipts at grocery stores, gas stations and ATMs — has been found with high BPA content across markets in Delhi. This is well past the EU safe standard of 200 parts per million (ppm). India, however, doesn't have a safe limit set for thermal paper.

 

In the study, 12 unused thermal paper samples were collected from markets across the capital, like Jangpura, Nehru Place, Malviya Nagar and Bhogal. Receipts of products ordered online were also sent to department of biotechnology at Banaras Hindu University for testing.

 

The samples analysed through chromatography found the levels of BPA concentration between 300ppm and 6,600ppm. "The average level of BPA was 3,037ppm, which is exceedingly high and can have serious adverse impacts on human health and the environment," said Dr Prashant Rajankar, programme coordinator, Toxics Link.

 

BPA is known to cause various adverse health effects, like altered thyroid functions, obesity, diabetes, heart diseases, impaired liver and kidney functions, hyperactivity and impaired learning. Experts said that the chemical also mimics the biological activity of oestrogen that puts developing children at the greatest risk.

 

In 2015, Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) had started phasing out the use of BPA in baby feeding bottles after considering the health impact on children.

 

Thermal paper is also used by ticketing agencies, lottery systems and other businesses that require accurate and high-volume printouts.

 

Piyush Mohapatra, senior programme coordinator at Toxics Link, said BPA is loosely bound with thermal paper, hence there is a high chance of the chemical penetrating the human skin as well as contaminating the ecosystem.

 

Globally, efforts are being made to phase out or restrict the use of BPA in thermal papers. Countries like Japan, Belgium, Denmark, Canada and France have banned the use of BPA in thermal papers. It’s time India follows suit.