Suffolk County, New York, on Long Island, became the first county to ban the use of controversial ingredient Bisphenol A (BPA) in sales receipts in a 16-1 vote. BPA has been controversial for a long time, as it is believed to be an endocrine-disrupting chemical that has been associated with health problems, including: cancer, reproductive problems, obesity, and learning disabilities.
Why receipts? Previous research has found that thermal paper receipts have “large quantities“ of BPA. Specifically, up to 2.2 percent of the weight of the receipt! In fact, other studies have concluded that sales receipts could expose consumers to the hormone-mimicking chemical equivalent to that found in food packaging such as hard plastics and canned foods.
“The statistics will show that those that work in retail have a substantially higher level of BPA that’s in their systems,” Legislator Steve Stern told CBS 2, defending The Safer Sales Slip Act.
The cost difference for using receipts without BPA is marginal enough for it to not hurt business—two to five cents per roll. Thermal paper receipts are found in ATMs, gas stations, restaurants, and other retailers. Businesses have until 2014 to meet the new regulations, and should they not comply, they will face a $500 fine for their first offense and then $1,000 for every other offense.
Suffolk County seems to be the trendsetter in BPA bans, as it was the first county to ban the use of BPA in baby bottles and children’s sippy cups in 2009. Two years later, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that BPA would be banned from children’s goods.