We are a paper converting/slitting company, we slit reels of thermal coated paper into till and credit card rolls. Does thermal coated paper contain BPA or Bisphenol, and if so will the rolls be harmful in any way? Is it a problem if food outlets use this for receipts?
CC, Pretoria, South Africa
Thank you for contacting us with your questions. BPA has a similar chemical structure to that of the naturally occurring sex hormone estradiol (an estrogen) and has the potential to mimic the effects of estradiol in the body. In a recent essay we posted on our website about BPA in Plastics, we noted that “BPA is common in thermal paper, which includes receipts, labels, and tickets. This form of BPA is in a chemical form that is more available for exposure than BPA which is chemically locked into a resin or plastic. Following handling of thermal paper, BPA can be transferred to the skin and ingested through incidental hand to mouth contact or absorbed through skin.” In a recent report by the US Environmental Protection Agency titled ‘Bisphenol A Alternatives in Thermal Paper’, cutting and packaging operations was also cited as a potential release point of BPA. Without knowing paper composition, release conditions and background levels of BPA from other source exposures, it is difficult for us to comment on whether the rolls in your facility or use of this paper as receipts in the food outlets would be harmful.
To determine if the thermal paper you use in your facility contains BPA, please contact your paper supplier. If it does contain BPA you can take steps to minimize your workers’ exposure to BPA by minimizing dust, wearing protective equipment such as gloves and dust masks and considering switching to BPA free paper.
In terms of the use of this paper in food outlets, exposure to BPA can be reduced by wearing gloves or washing hands after handling thermal paper products such as receipts. Alternatively, receipts could be emailed or refused if not needed.
Please see the EPA report for additional information on hazards associated with BPA and BPA alternatives in thermal paper (http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/projects/bpa/aa-for-bpa-full-version.pdf).
I hope you find this answer helpful and informative. Please feel free to contact us with any further questions or comments.