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Receipts linked to BPA Exposure, Study Reports

Update Date: Oct 23, 2014 10:04 AM EDT
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Several studies have reported that exposure to high levels of the chemical, bisphenol A (BPA) can lead to adverse side effects. In a new study, researchers examined how receipts, which are coated in BPA, exposed people to the potentially dangerous chemical. The team from the University if Missouri discovered that people were quickly exposed to high levels of BPA when they mixed receipts with hand sanitizers and with greasy foods.

For this study, the researchers examined the link between exposure via skin absorption and BPA levels. Previous studies have reported that high levels of BPA can affect the endocrine system, which is in charge of regulating hormones. These studies found that BPA exposure can lead to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Exposure in the womb can negatively affect the mental and physical health of the fetus.

The researchers found that skin absorption in general can lead to a greater exposure of BPA in comparison in ingestion. When the team accounted for two other factors, which were using hand sanitizer prior to touching a BPA-coated receipt and eating greasy foods with hands that touched the receipt, they found an even greater level of exposure to the chemical.

Study author Frederick S. vom Saal, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Missouri-Columbia, explained according to TIME. "The chemicals used to make hand sanitizers, soaps, lotions, and sunscreen degrade the skin's ability to act as a barrier and so act as skin penetration enhancers."

By using these items, the skin ends up absorbing higher levels of BPA from receipts. The researchers reported that exposure occurred as fast as two seconds.

"The combination of dermal and oral BPA absorption led to a rapid and dramatic average maximum increase in unconjugated (bioactive) BPA...in blood and urine within 90 minutes," the study authors wrote.

Even though low levels of BPA exposure is considered safe, this study's findings suggest exposure levels could be a lot higher than people previously believed.

The study was published in PLOS ONE.

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