Readers of this blog will know that the hormone disruptor (or endocrine disruptor) bisphenol-A (BPA) is found in polycarbonate plastic bottles, the epoxy linings of food cans, and as a coating on ATM and cash-register receipts. You may ask, “What are companies doing to eliminate BPA from their products?” The skeptical-minded would suspect that the answer is “As little as possible,” or “Not much.” Nevertheless, there is a little good news.
First the good news. Tough, clear water bottles formerly made of polycarbonate plastic, which contains BPA, are being replaced by a different tough, clear plastic – Tritan™ – a copolyester containing no BPA. These bottles will be marked “BPA Free” and carry the plastic code number 7 which is the same code number for polycarbonate, and nylon and miscellaneous plastics. A bit confusing, but simply look for the “BPA-Free” stamp.
Now the other “not good” news. BPA is still found in the epoxy linings of food cans, and its brother has replaced it on paper receipts. Although BPA has been eliminated from the paper of many ATM and cash register receipts – and they may be called “BPA Free” – this is a misleading label. Of course, your receipts will not contain any such information, but if you inquire of the store management, they may state that they are using “BPA-Free” thermal paper receipts. What’s happened is that the manufacturers of thermal papers have switched from BPA to its brother, Bisphenol-S (BPS). Whereas BPA contains a three-carbon group linking two phenol molecules, BPS contains a sulfone (sulfur connected to two oxygen atoms) group which link the two phenol groups.
The question is: Is BPS safe? Scientists at the University of Texas studied this issue and found that it also mimics hormone activity, as BPA does. The January 17, 2013 issue of Environmental Health News reported on this issue. Their report stated that rat cells exposed to levels of BPS within the range people are exposed to caused interference with natural hormones, just like BPA. Couple this with the fact that a study reported in Environmental Science and Technology (May 16, 2012) that in 111 thermal papers tested, BPS was found in amounts similar to the amounts of BPA previously found in thermal papers.
The Bottom Line is, buy “BPA-Free” bottles and continue to avoid handling thermal paper receipts.