Printed receipts harm children and pregnant women

Maybe my headline overstates the point, but I got into a bit of a discussion today. After hearing Simon Salama’s presentation defending the safety of Bisphenol A (BPA) in printed receipts at the IMI 23rd Annual Thermal Printing Conference, I had to speak up. I felt like I had just listened to the tobacco industry defend the safety of cigarette smoking.

Bisphenol A (BPA)

In case you don’t recognize it, BPA is the same ingredient that was found in baby bottles, bottled water, and other plastic materials. Because it may mimic female hormones and affect child development, BPA is being eliminated from many products, including baby bottles. Other studies indicate that BPA Messes With Pregnant Women’s Hormones and may be tied to heart disease. Many details about BPA are not known or are based on animal tests, but the information that is available is certainly a cause for concern.

I didn’t realize it, but BPA is also used as an activator in many printed receipts. I am referring to the thermally printed slips of paper that come with nearly every purchase.

BPA is not needed for receipts. It is used because it is low-cost and readily available. For information on the effort to remove BPA from receipts see Just the ticket? Alternatives to BPA in receipt paper, which describes the reasons behind the Swedish Chemicals Agency’s proposed ban on BPA.

More information on BPA is also available in Leonard Sax’s Boy’s Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men and Girls on the Edge: The Four Factors Driving the New Crisis for Girls–Sexual Identity, the Cyberbubble, Obsessions, Environmental Toxins  and in the FDA’s publication on Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application.


About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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2 Responses to Printed receipts harm children and pregnant women

  1. david crotty says:

    The receipts you mention use thermal printing. Not all
    thermal printing uses BPA. Not sure which do and which do not. This
    means that the printer places a hot piece of metal on the paper and
    that spot turns black. Happens that the kiosks you see in post
    offices in the US print out “stamps” as postage that are thermal
    printed. The USPO insists that this printing process does not have

  2. Pingback: Vitamin C Good for More Than Preventing Scurvy | All About Images Blog

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