Receipt Paper Study 2022

Send us your paper receipts!

Participate in citizen-science collection for our next study! Ecology Center's Healthy Stuff Lab is testing paper cash register receipts. Receipts from restaurants, grocery stores and other retailers, medical services, gas stations, libraries, and other locations are all accepted. 

Help us persuade companies to switch out of hazardous bisphenol chemicals like BPS and BPA and to reduce their printing of receipts altogether.

Please send in receipts from 2022 transactions by June 30, 2022.

Instructions

1. Fold receipt(s) with transaction printing side in: see photos below. Fold each individually. For security purposes, if you wish, you may cut off a portion that displays part of a credit card number or a name. Please don't use marker or pen on the receipt.

2. If receipt doesn’t have store name and location or date, please include a note with that information.

3. Send receipt(s) to:

Ecology Center
Attn: Healthy Stuff Lab
339 E. Liberty, Suite 300
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

How to fold a receipt

Background

A specially coated paper called thermal paper is used for most receipt printing. The coating allows rapid printing. Unfortunately, the original thermal paper coating contained high levels of bisphenol A (BPA). When BPA's toxic properties were revealed, many thermal paper makers switched to bisphenol S (BPS). We now understand BPS has toxic properties much like BPA. Fortunately, better alternatives exist. 

In 2018 we tested over 200 receipts from 148 businesses and found 93% had either BPS or BPA (75% and 18%, respectively). A small percentage (2% and 1%) had either no coating or a preferable alternative coating. We are testing receipts again in 2022 to see what progress has been made, to highlight this unnecessary chemical exposure and to push companies to eliminate bisphenols.

Workers who handle BPS- and BPA-coated receipts, including cashiers, waiters, and bank tellers, are repeatedly exposed to these hormone-disrupting chemicals. Working such jobs can expose someone to as many as 30 receipts per hour. After a work shift, their urinary and blood levels of BPA and BPS are significantly higher than the general population. These chemicals easily transfer from receipt paper to hands and are rapidly absorbed into the blood through the skin. Combined with exposure from other sources like food packaging and adhesives, workers in particular can exceed tolerable intake values.

In 2018, Best Buy stood out as an industry leader using a safer alternative to bisphenol-coated receipt paper. We also found a few businesses using paper without any coating. After our 2018 report, Trader Joe's committed to phasing out BPA and BPS. We encourage all businesses to follow their lead and protect employees and customers by switching to safer alternatives.