The American Chemistry Council, which represents the chemical industry, said that while BPA can transfer from paper receipts to the skin, the level of absorption is low. "Available data suggests that BPA is not readily absorbed through the skin," a spokeswoman said. "Biomonitoring data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows that exposure to BPA from all sources, which would include typical exposure from receipts, is extremely low."
Scientists have not determined how much of a receipt's BPA coating can transfer to the skin and from there into the body. A study published July 11 by scientists with the Official Food Control Authority of the Canton of Zürich in Switzerland found that BPA transfers readily from receipts to skin and can penetrate the skin to such a depth that it cannot be washed off. This raises the possibility that the chemical infiltrates the skin's lower layers to enter the bloodstream directly.
While working at Polaroid Corp. for more than a decade, John C. Warner learned about the chemistry behind some carbonless copy papers (now used for most credit card receipts) and the thermal imaging papers that are spit out by most modern cash registers. Both relied on bisphenol-A.
Manufacturers would coat a powdery layer of this BPA onto one side of a piece of paper together with an invisible ink, he says. “Later, when you applied pressure or heat, they would merge together and you’d get color.”
At the time, back in the ‘90s, he thought little about the technology other than it was clever. But when BPA exploded into the news, about a decade ago, Warner began to develop some doubts.
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