Press Releases

Despite Changes, Cash Register Receipts May Still Pose Health Risks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 10, 2016

Contact: Caroline Cox, Center for Environmental Health, (510) 644-3900 x 308,

CEH launches legal action against companies for exposing consumers to the toxic chemical BPA in cash register receipts

Oakland, CA- A new report released today by the national health watchdog Center for Environmental Health (CEH) finds that cash register receipts can expose consumers to toxic chemicals linked to birth defects and other serious reproductive health problems. While many thermal paper makers have stopped using the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA), the CEH testing found that this chemical has been replaced in receipts by a closely related chemical called BPS. Recent studies suggest that BPS may be as harmful, and possibly more harmful, than BPA.

In testing of receipts from more than 100 businesses, including Burger King, Target, Bloomingdales, Rite Aid and dozens of other restaurants, grocery stores, and retailers, CEH found that just five still contain BPA, while all of the rest contain BPS.

“Receipt paper without BPA is supposed to be safer, but our testing shows that thermal paper companies have simply jumped from the frying pan into the fire,” said CEH Research Director Caroline Cox. “Changing from one toxic chemical to another is a poisonous substitution that continues to put our children and families at risk. Consumers should know that handling paper receipts may pose serious health risks.”

BPA and BPS are endocrine disruptors, chemicals that can alter the bodies’ natural hormones, with potentially harmful consequences for sexual development, reproductive health, and other health concerns. Scientists warn that such hormone disrupting chemicals can be toxic at extremely small doses, with some studies showing that smaller exposures may be even more dangerous. CEH is warning consumers to avoid handling receipts to the extent possible, especially for pregnant women, and to keep receipts away from small children.

The CEH testing of 103 receipts purchased from Bay Area businesses this summer found that five companies, including Nordstroms, Neiman Marcus, and three others are still using BPA-based receipt paper. The nonprofit has launched legal action against these companies under California’s Prop 65 consumer protection law, for exposing consumers to BPA without required warnings.

But receipts from 98 other companies, including Target, Burger King, Bloomingdales, Rite Aid and dozens of others contain BPS. Since there is less data on the health risks from BPS, the chemical is unregulated. But a 2013 study found that tiny amounts of BPS — as little as one part per trillion – – could interfere with the normal functioning of a cell, and scientists have said that, in some ways, BPS may be an even more potent hormone-disrupting chemical than BPA.

Click here to see the CEH report, “No Clean Bill of Health”

The Center for Environmental Health has a 20-year track record of protecting children and families from harmful chemicals in our air, water, food and in dozens of every day products. CEH also works with major industries and leaders in green business to promote healthier alternatives to toxic products and practices. In 2010, the San Francisco Business Times bestowed its annual “Green Champion” award to CEH for its work to improve health and the environment in the Bay Area and beyond.