The irony train rolled into town with a 10 ton load of payback today: The cafe where nearly 200 members of Congress could get their daily joe is spewing receipts lousy with toxic chemical BPA. The chemical’s been banned in Canada and California for, among other things, causing impotence.
More importantly, the study is the fourth to show that the powdered BPA coating most cash register receipts rubs off onto skin readily, and is even steadily contaminating our money supply.
• An attempt to add a ban on BPA to the food safety bill was shot down by members of the U.S. Senate, who are past reproductive age anyway, reports the San Francisco Chronicle:
“I don’t understand how a chemical group would oppose taking (out) a chemical which, at the very least, may impact the endocrine systems of infants because they want to make money on it,” [Sen. Dianne] Feinstein said after her amendment was shot down. The experience was “very, very frustrating, ” she added.
• Avoiding receipts isn’t enough: BPA has also contaminated the cash we carry and is nearly impossible to avoid, says the Washington Toxics Coalition, which conducted the study:
Scientists studying BPA — which is present in 93 percent of all Americans — have hypothesized the major route of human exposure is through food, as BPA is used as a liner in nearly all canned food and beverages. This study suggests that skin absorption from thermal paper receipts with unbound BPA may lead to exposure at levels equivalent to exposure from food sources.
• Thanks to recycling, even our toilet paper and paper towels could harbor BPA, says Sightline Daily’s Jennifer Langston:
Nearly 30 percent of Europe’s thermal paper winds up in the paper recycling stream and goes on to contaminate other consumer products. Researchers there and in Japan have found BPA in recycled paper towels, paper food boxes, toilet paper and wastewater.
• The plastics industry and trade groups like the American Chemistry Council are actively suppressing evidence of BPA’s impacts, which could be substantial even at low doses, says science journalist Melinda Wenner:
BPA mimics the hormone estrogen, binding to its receptors and activating biochemical cascades that impact the brain, bone, liver, and heart as well as cancer risk, fertility, and obesity. Hormones like estrogen aren’t just responsible for reproduction; they are the messengers the body uses to communicate about pretty much everything. And they are incredibly potent, having “evolved to act as powerful amplifiers.”
• Absent legislation, at least one company has already removed BPA from its receipt paper, reports Janet Raloff of Science News:
Wisconsin-based Appleton Paper produces more than half of the thermal receipt paper sold in North America. In the first week in November, it began incorporating tiny biodegradable red rayon fibers in its stock. Resembling tiny eyelashes, they’re visible only on the paper’s back, uncoated side… Since Appleton is the only company to make — or sell — BPA-free thermal-receipt paper in North America, these fibers offer consumers a way to identify at a glance which papers won’t shed BPA onto our hands and clothes.