Study: Hazardous chemicals found in thermal paper receipts

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ZAMBOANGA SIBUGAY, Philippines

Chemicals linked to cancer and can cause disruption to the endocrine system of the human body have been found present in thermal transaction receipts being used in the country, a study said.

At the “Kapehan sa Dabaw” and the “Forum on Hazardous Chemicals in Thermal Paper Receipts” on Monday, June 20, representatives of the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), EcoWaste Coalition and the Wonjin Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health (WIOEH) disclosed the results of the study and shed light on the hidden hazards of such type of receipts.

The groups revealed the results of a pioneering study that detected Bisphenol A (BPA) and its cousin Bisphenol S (BPS) in samples of thermal receipts collected by IDIS and the EcoWaste Coalition from various establishments in Davao, Makati, Manila, Quezon and Taguig Cities.

The samples, obtained from government offices, local and global franchise stores, large supermarkets, groceries or convenience stores, banks, pharmacies and other sources, were then shipped to South Korea for analysis.

Based on the analysis conducted by the WIOEH, 32 out of the 53 analyzed samples from the Philippines had BPA in concentrations ranging from 0.92 to 1.86%, way above the European Union’s limit of 0.02%.  Thirteen of the 53 samples had 0.61 to 1.12% BPS.

“The test results are deeply concerning as the data show that thermal paper receipts coated with BPA or BPS are widely used in commerce. These receipts may be a significant pathway for BPA/BPS exposure for some sectors,” said EnP Lemuel Lloyd Manalo, Program Coordinator, IDIS.

He stressed that “the authorities need to act fast to protect the most vulnerable, particularly women and children.”

“Thermal paper receipts containing BPA or BPS present health hazards for both cashiers and customers who are unsuspectingly exposed to these hazardous chemicals every time they handle or touch such receipts,” said Manny Calonzo, Adviser, EcoWaste Coalition.,

“These chemicals can be easily absorbed by the skin,” he added.

BPA is classified as an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC) and is linked to an array of side effects such as diabetes, obesity, increased blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, neurological problems, infertility and other reproductive disorders, and breast and prostate cancers. 

BPS, a regrettable replacement for BPA, has been shown to exhibit similar hormone disrupting properties and toxicological effects.

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Dr. Won Kim, EDC-Free Asia Project Leader, said they are hoping to “move policy makers into regulating BPA and BPS, especially the use of these substances in thermal transaction receipts.” 

“There is an urgent need for stronger policies that will protect workers and the society as a whole from EDCs and other hazardous chemicals,” he said. (Antonio Manaytay/ Ecowaste Coalition)

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