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Activists press retailers on receipts

by Melody M. Bomgardner
January 22, 2018 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 96, Issue 4

Two consumer advocacy groups—the Ecology Center and Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families—are calling on retailers to eliminate the use of bisphenol A (BPA) and bisphenol S (BPS) in thermal coated receipts, citing potential health effects. The organizations tested 200 receipts from 150 businesses. After earlier criticism, BPA use has declined, and the chemical was found in only 18% of the receipts tested. But BPS was found in 75% of them. BPA, which is readily absorbed via the skin when workers and shoppers touch receipts, interacts with estrogen and thyroid hormone receptors. BPS is a closely related chemical and not an appropriate replacement, the groups contend. Three retailers were found to use paper with no thermal coating. Another retailer, Best Buy, uses thermal paper coated with BASF’s Pergafast 201 color developer, which does not contain either problematic chemical. The advocacy groups point out that companies with corporate chemical policies are more likely to have moved away from bisphenol-containing receipts. In response to a letter from the groups, the Trader Joe’s supermarket chain, which does not have a chemicals policy, vowed to eliminate use of receipts with the chemicals “as soon as possible.”


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