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Untested substances in receipts
Recently they are everywhere - receipts. From chocolate bars to sandwiches, the seller is obliged to issue a receipt for any small items thanks to the receipt obligation. What is already causing a lot of trouble for consumers could also pose a risk to the environment and health. Because the thermal paper contains hormone-like substances whose effects on humans have not been adequately tested.
The Federal Environment Agency and the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) express concerns about the bisphenols contained in the thermal paper. Thermal paper is mainly used for receipts, tickets and parking tickets. Due to the new flood of thermal paper, people and the environment come into contact with these substances much more frequently, the effects of which have not been adequately tested.
Unexplained impact on health and the environment
The Federal Environment Agency assesses the obligation to pay from an environmental perspective. The thermal paper used for this purpose contains the color developers bisphenol A or, more recently, the substitute bisphenol S. Bisphenol A is now regarded in the EU as a "very worrying substance" that can affect both human health and the environment. Because bisphenol A has an endocrine mode of action. This means that the substance is similar to human hormones and can be wrongly classified as a hormone by the body when exposed.
This can have consequences for the hormone system and, according to the Federal Environment Agency, can impair sexual function and fertility in men and women, for example. For this reason, thermal paper that contains bisphenol A has not been allowed to circulate since January 2, 2020. Instead, substitutes such as bisphenol S are used. But whether these are dangerous and, if so, to what extent, is currently still unclear.
Bisphenol S changes the hormonal system of mosquitoes
A study from 2018, which was published in the renowned journal "Plos One", already examined the effects of the substitute bisphenol S on the hormone system of mosquitoes. In the Chironomus riparius mosquito species, the researchers showed that exposure to bisphenol S led to changes in the hormonal system and in various metabolic pathways. The research team is concerned about the safety of the substitutes.
Where to put the receipts?
Children should not put receipts or other thermal paper in their mouths. In addition, the Federal Environment Agency recommends that the receipts are not disposed of in the paper waste but in the residual waste. If thermal paper is disposed of in the paper waste, it goes into the recycling process. Ultimately, the bisphenols end up in other recycling products such as toilet paper, handkerchiefs and kitchen paper. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Federal Environment Agency: Questions and answers on the obligation to pay (call: 16.01.2020), Umweltbundesamt.de
- Federal Institute for Risk Assessment: Questions and answers on bisphenol A in consumer-related products (accessed: January 16, 2020), bfr.bund.de
- Óscar Herrero, Mónica Aquilino, Paloma Sánchez-Argüello, Rosario Planelló: The BPA-substitute bisphenol S alters the transcription of genes related to endocrine, stress response and biotransformation pathways in the aquatic midge Chironomus riparius (Diptera, Chironomidae), Plos One, 2018 , journals.plos.org