hands holding receipt

More Than You Bargained For: Receipt Paper Study 2018

Published on May 19, 2018

Did you know store receipts are a major contributor to your body’s intake of the hormone-disrupting chemicals BPS and BPA? These chemicals are quickly and efficiently absorbed into the bloodstream through your skin.

To understand current use of these chemicals in receipt paper, Ecology Center’s Healthy Stuff program tested 167 paper receipts from a wide variety of businesses. The samples included major grocers, big-box stores and retailers like Meijer, Kroger, and TJX stores, as well as gas stations, theaters, libraries, small and independent businesses, and many more.

We used our rapid screening method to detect the presence of BPA, BPS, and other chemicals known as “developers” on the special paper (called thermal paper) used for printing receipts.

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The negative effects of BPA on hormones, metabolism, and other bodily systems have been repeatedly demonstrated. BPS has emerged as a common and regrettable substitute, showing effects similar to BPA.

According to published research, employees who handle receipts or other thermal paper repeatedly in their jobs are at especially high risk.

Our study found:

  • BPS or BPA in 93% of tested receipts
  • BPS in 75% and BPA in 18%
  • No coating on 2% of receipts
  • A newer alternative to BPS and BPA in receipts from Best Buy stores
  • High prevalence of BPS in both retail and service sectors (85% and 68%, respectively)
  • BPA receipts somewhat more common in the service sector (26%) than retail sector (8%).

We are calling on all businesses to follow our recommendations to protect employees and customers. We have sent letters to certain retailers that lack a comprehensive chemical policy to switch to a combination of safer thermal paper and electronic receipts. 

Trader Joe's answered our call by committing to eliminate bisphenol receipts from all their stores!