Marking October Breast Cancer Prevention Month, From Pink to Prevention has launched a 38 Degrees petition entitled No more poison in our hands – Time for a ban on all paper till receipts
Did you know that every time you shop the chances are you end up with poison on your hands? Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used to coat till and other types of receipts. It can be readily absorbed through the skin, interfering with our hormones and is linked to breast and prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity, and reproductive and neurological disorders. BPA was classified as an Endocrine Disrupting Chemical (EDC) in 2016.
Elevated levels of BPA have been found in the urine of cashiers who are the most intensively exposed of all. Indeed, we all have levels of this chemical in our bodies. And now similar health concerns are being raised for a BPA substitute Bisphenol S.
Not only are till receipts toxic, they are yet another source of wastepaper, ending up in the bottom of your bag or filling your purse or wallet. The vast majority of the UK’s 11.2 billion printed daily are increasingly unnecessary given the various electronic alternatives.
It’s time to ban the paper receipt in the UK, following the lead of several countries which have banned or severely restricted the use of BPA in receipts.
The petition will be sent to all major UK retailers, the Health and Safety Executive, Secretary of State for Health, the British Retail Consortium and leading breast cancer charities.
Helen, Deb & Ho-Chih
ABOUT OUR PETITION
The Majority of the UK’s annual 11 billion paper till receipts are coated with endocrine disrupting chemicals. There is no information on the receipts to let you know.
Every year, cashiers hand 11.2 billion paper receipts to UK shoppers at a cost of £32m and the felling of 87,000 trees needed to supply the UK with printed receipts.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, the vast majority of these receipts are printed on ‘thermal’ paper – not only are they not recyclable, but they can be coated in an endocrine disrupting chemical substance called Bisphenol A (BPA), or Bisphenol S (BPS), a substitute for BPA which has also exhibited similar adverse health impacts. Every single time a BPA or BPS coated till receipt is handled by a retail worker and/or shopper, they are repeatedly exposed to these harmful chemicals. Both BPA and BPS are absorbed through the skin. Those working with these products have the highest exposure.
A review of the 13 major supermarkets and retailers in the UK by the Scottish environmental charity Fidra revealed just over a third of retailers have Bisphenol free receipts. But most will be phasing out Bisphenols by the EU restriction date of January 2020. Half of those reviewed have stopped their machines printing out receipts automatically. But only one retailer offers digital receipts with the others considering this option. This is why it is so important for trade unions and consumers to push for receipt free purchasing.
WHAT DOES BISPHENOL A DO TO OUR BODIES?
BPA has been classified as a Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) by the EU because of its endocrine disrupting properties and its toxicity to reproduction. This means it interferes with our endocrine system which is the bodies messenger system, carrying messages to every part of the body via hormones in our blood.
The endocrine system is responsible for every aspect of life from cradle to grave and so anything that’s disrupts this system can cause serious illness and disease, especially if exposure happens at critical times when a foetus is developing in the womb. Exposure to BPA has been linked to breast and prostate cancer, endometriosis, diabetes, heart disease, and adversely effects reproduction, brain development and behaviour especially in children.
A French study estimate up to 89% of those working as a cashiers are female, with similar percentages across Europe. So the number of foetuses potentially exposed to BPA in the womb would be around 32,000.
BPA is not only found in till receipts but in certain types of hard plastic called polycarbonates, in epoxy resin, the lining of some tin cans, medical devices, in contact and glasses lenses, and plastic containers. Polycarbonates can be identified by the number 7 but not all contain BPA. BPA can readily leach from these products in food or drinks.
Latest Research – don’t handle, crunch or tear your till receipts.
A recent international study looking at BPA and BPS and till receipts in Spain, France and Brazil by researchers from those countries, part-funded by the EU and published in the journal Environmental Research concluded that ‘For people who wish to avoid taking the risk, the researchers told newspapers that they should fold receipts inward, not crumple them up or handle them unnecessarily, not store them in pockets or wallets, and throw them in the rubbish when no longer required.
PINK TILL RECEIPTS?
Earlier this year From Pink to Prevention, ChemTrust, Pink Ladies Cancer Support Group Derry and Breast Cancer Prevention Scotland questioned the irony of a breast-checking ‘Tickled Pink’ and ‘Be your breast friend’ campaign by ASDA in support of Breast Cancer Now and which used pink supermarket till receipts to carry the message.
Breast Cancer Now’s position is that there is no evidence linking endocrine disrupting chemicals to breast cancer and is listed under ‘ Common Breast Cancer Myths’. We continue to point then to the evidence in the hope that, one day, they will accept 21st century science and inform women of the risk, adopt the precautionary principle and act upon the evidence.
Find our open letter to both BCN and ASDA on our website here.
HOW CAN YOU AVOID BPA AND BPS?
- Say no to till receipts, ask for electronic alternatives if needed.
- If you handle receipts at work, avoid using hand sanitisers as these increase the absorption of chemicals like BPA.
- Lobby the HSE to recognise and regulate EDCs as harmful for workers.
- Never put till receipts or lottery tickets in the mouth, or give to a child to play with. Wash hands after handling.
- Avoid microwaving food in plastic, which over time may leach BPA. Plastic containers are numbered for recycling, and those made using BPA carry a 7, although not everything with a 7 contains BPA.
- Use baby bottles that are BPA free (as all baby bottles should be now in Europe), but if possible, breast feed because breast milk is considered best for your baby.
- Ask leading breast cancer charities to stop selling pink products containing chemicals linked to breast cancer. #pinkwashing
- Avoid using polycarbonate (hard plastic) food and drink containers, use glass, pottery or ceramic instead. Recycle old plastics containers, especially if scratched and do not use them to heat up food.
- Try and avoid tin cans as much as possible, as they can be lined with BPA. Choose freshly produced organic food, including plenty of fruit and vegetables.
- Lobby your retailer to go receipt free.
- Ask dentists to avoid products made with BPA-related chemicals.
For more information: