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A Cheerful Little BPA Update

I know it’s the middle of summer and I should be blogging about something fun like camping gear (as promised) or homemade Popsicles. But I just saw these two pieces of news about my favorite potentially toxic plastic component, bisphenol A (BPA) — and felt compelled to share.

Here's a super fun photo to mitigate the bad news.

Apparently, in addition to plastic water bottles (which we’ve all ditched, right?) and canned food (which actually contains more BPA than plastics so we should be ditching as well, see below), thermal paper (i.e. grocery and other store receipts, airline tickets) is often laced with BPA, too. That innocent-looking piece of paper the cashier hands you at Safeway, CVS, even Whole Foods, is coated with chemicals that can seep into your skin.

Here’s the scoop, according to a study by the Environmental Working Group (EWG):

  • Two-fifths of the paper receipts tested by a major laboratory commissioned by Environmental Working Group were on heat-activated paper that was between 0.8 to nearly 3 percent pure BPA by weight. Wipe tests conducted with a damp laboratory paper easily picked up a portion of the receipts’ BPA coating, indicating that the chemical would likely stick to the skin of anyone who handled them. The receipts came from major retailers, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, fast-food restaurants, post offices and automatic teller machines (ATMs).

The report goes on to say that at least some of the chemical seeps in to the skin to a level where it cannot be washed off. Sigh…

So, assuming you still need to shop occasionally, what are you to do? I guess you could wear gloves? Seriously, the EWG suggests declining receipts whenever you can and washing your hands as soon as possible after touching them. If you save receipts, keep them in a separate envelope and not in your wallet.

Sorry to bombard, but here’s another piece of BPA-related news. A coalition of environmental and public health groups tested food from 50 cans and found BPA contamination in 46 of them (that’s 92%; if you really want to get angry, watch the group’s video). As I’ve mentioned before, BPA is a known endocrine disruptor and has been linked to lots of nasty things like cancer and reproductive health problems. I’ve also mentioned before that Eden Foods lines their cans the old fashioned way (with resin), making their food 100% BPA-free. Now, here is the list of the canned foods with the highest levels of BPA (all above 100 ppb — levels associated with the bad stuff I just mentioned, i.e. cancer). So, if nothing else, please AVOID the following:

  • DelMonte French Style Green Beans: 296.2 ppb (store) and 1,140 ppb (pantry)
  • Great Value (Walmart’s in-store brand) Sweet Peas: 329.3 ppb (store)
  • Healthy Choice Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup: 323.6 ppb (pantry)
  • Healthy Choice Old Fashioned Chicken with Rice Soup: 172.4 ppb (store)
  • Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup: 130.4 ppb (pantry)
  • Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup: 120.7 ppb (pantry) and 127.5 ppb (store)

Now, go have some fun, would ya?

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This post has 5 comments

  • Amy Lorigan says:

    Damn it, Bevin, you just killed my Healthy Choice buzz!

  • Carole Brandt-Fink says:

    UGH. I’ve been throwing my receipts in the COMPOST!!!!!!!! What happened to good old fashioned paper register tape? Lately, I’ve been feeling like if we could just go back to the 50’s…

    • I’m sure there’s some (money-related) reason why they use thermal paper instead of regular…who knows? I just went to the store and treated the receipt was a piece of skin-scorching poison; I’m sure the cashier thought I was nuts! I wonder if they’re even recyclable?

  • GJo says:

    Don’t you just hate being the bearer of bad news?!? Glad you’re doing it, Bevin! I made dinner for one of my friends going through chemo the other day and tried to figure out what to put the food in so she didn’t have to return any dishes. I was surprised to see that ZipLock is now selling plasticware that is BPA-free! A little expensive to give away all the time; but, I feel better about not bombarding my friends with additional contaminants.

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