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.
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.