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Skip the Slip! Ban BPA in Thermal Paper Receipts


MARCH 3, 2023

CONTACT: Nancy Buermeyer, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners

SACRAMENTO – Thank you, Assemblymember Ting, for your leadership on this bill to ban BPA in thermal paper receipts and your invitation for us to attend today’s event. This crucial bill, AB 1347, would help reduce Californians’ risk of breast cancer by minimizing exposure to BPA and BPS through receipts printed on thermal paper.

Breast Cancer Prevention Partners is a national organization working to prevent breast cancer by reducing our exposure to chemicals linked to an increased risk of the disease. We are a science-based organization that does our work through public education, market campaigns, and policy change at the state and federal levels.

BPA bans

Bisphenol A, or BPA, has long been a chemical that we are deeply concerned about. For example, back in 2011, BCPP helped pass the CA bill banning BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. BCPP also worked with Congress to pressure the FDA to ban BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups in 2011 and infant formula in 2013. We also ran a market campaign to pressure Campbells Soup Company to remove BPA from food can linings, which they did in 2017.

Now it’s time to remove this dangerous hormone-disrupting chemical from thermal receipt paper, as well as its regrettable substitute, Bisphenol S or BPS.

BPA chemical absorption

Our exposure to these chemicals is ubiquitous and continuous. For example, CDC biomonitoring data shows that over 95% of us have BPA, and almost 90% of us have BPS in our bodies.

Tests of pregnant women have shown BPA present in blood and urine, breast milk, amniotic fluid, placental tissue, hand umbilical cord blood at birth, and the urine of premature infants. These early life exposures are particularly concerning as this is a vulnerable period of development when chemicals like BPA can have their most significant impact.

BPA absorption through thermal paper receipts

We also know that the skin absorbs BPA and BPS when handling thermal paper receipts and that using hand sanitizer may increase absorption. This exposure concerns all consumers; however, the risk is highest for cashiers, over 70% of whom are women. And this exposure is unnecessary!

So why does this exposure matter? Because BPA, and the very similarly structured chemical BPS, disrupt the very sensitive balance of hormones in our bodies.

The notion that a small amount of a chemical is NOT harmful, a concept toxicologists refer to as “the dose makes the poison,” doesn’t apply when it comes to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Hormones work at exquisitely low concentrations in our body because they are powerful chemical messengers, and chemicals that act like those hormones – such as BPA acting like estrogen – also have profound impacts at very, very low levels.

BPA health impacts

Animal and human studies have linked BPA exposure to a staggering number of health problems, including prostate and breast cancer, asthma, metabolic disorders and obesity, behavioral changes, altered brain and immune system development, low birth weight, and lowered sperm counts. Studies show that minuscule amounts cross the placenta and disrupt normal prenatal development. BPA is a reproductive toxicant on California’s Prop 65 list.

A large and convincing body of scientific evidence, including human, animal, and laboratory studies, links exposure to BPA to an increased risk of breast cancer. In addition, these studies show BPA interferes with chemotherapy, including the well-known breast cancer treatment drug tamoxifen. See a summary of the science on BPA.

BPS health impacts

While there is less research on BPS, all indications are that this very similarly structured chemical is doing very similar damage to our health. That is due to the chemical similarity between bisphenols and estradiol, the biologically active form of estrogen. Scientific studies have linked BPS to developmental and reproductive toxicity, including low birth weight; preterm birth; lower sperm concentrations, counts, and motility; reduced fertility; and obesity. Studies have also shown links between BPS and disruption of mammary gland development and early puberty onset, both of which are risk factors for breast cancer.

And because BPS is, regrettably, used as a replacement for BPA, for instance, in thermal paper, our exposure to this chemical is increasing.

Ban BPA & BPS in thermal paper receipts

That’s why AB 1347 must ban both BPA and BPS in thermal paper.

Thank you again to Assemblymember Ting. We are proud to support the bill and look forward to it moving forward.

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