February 26th, 2020
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Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical widely used in a range of products we use in everyday life and is developing a reputation as a chemical that should be avoided. BPA is cheap and easily accessible and is therefore produced on mass for use worldwide. The chemical itself is used in the production of many common plastics, resins and paper products.
Food storage containers, baby bottles, plastic drink bottles, tinned food cans, paper receipts and concert tickets are a few everyday items that contain BPA. Studies have found that unbonded BPA molecules in plastic products and the linings inside food cans can leach out into the food and water that they are in contact with and consequentially enter the human body. The degree to which BPA leaches out of these products increases with the age of the product itself and with the temperature it is exposed to. Furthermore, a number of studies have provided evidence that BPA can enter the body through dermal contact with thermal paper products.
The ability of BPA to enter the human body from contact with these everyday items means that exposure to it is widespread among the general public. This is particularly concerning given that BPA is known to be an Endocrine Disrupting Chemical (EDC). The endocrine system is responsible for the release of hormones into the blood that then travel to organs and tissues in the body. Some of the major glands and organs that make up the endocrine system and release hormones include the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, pancreas and adrenal glands. Endocrine disrupting chemicals can interfere with the endocrine system and impact human health in a variety of ways.
Some of the detrimental impacts associated with endocrine disruption are reduced fertility in men and women, increased risk of breast and prostate cancers, childhood behavioural issues and impaired neurodevelopment, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, among others.
Businesses and workers
Based on the precautionary principle, Planet Ark recommends businesses avoid selling and using products containing BPA and its analogues, where possible. The following products are examples of safer alternatives:
Phenol free or chemical reaction free thermal paper
Phenol free cans
Phenol free plastic products
Workers who are regularly exposed to thermal paper should consider:
Asking their employer if the thermal paper contains BPA or its analogues
Washing their hands after handling
Wearing gloves while handling thermal paper
Avoiding use of hand sanitisers and moisturisers
Based on the precautionary principle, Planet Ark recommends individuals limit their exposure to products that are likely to contain BPA and its analogues, including:
Receipts and other thermal paper products
Other plastic products
Some tips when limiting your exposure:
Wash your hands after handling thermal paper products
Choose fresh fruit and vegetables
Choose bulk/dried legumes and pulses
Reusable stainless steel or glass water bottles
Speak up: ask your local retailers to switch to safer thermal paper receipts that are either phenol free or chemical reaction free.