Dr. Joseph Mercola has always preached against Bisphenol A or BPA in plastic products—particularly containers like plastic water bottles and food containers—because it leaches into food or drinks. But a recent study concluded that this endocrine-disrupting chemical is also present in paper currencies and other paper products. Currencies from 21 countries were found to contain this dangerous chemical.
According to the research, you can absorb a few nanograms of BPA daily just from handling paper currency. Even thermal receipt paper may also be BPA-contaminated. The study reports:
“We also examined the transfer of BPA from thermal receipt paper to currencies by placing currencies in contact with thermal receipt papers for 24 [hours] in a wallet. Concentrations of BPA dramatically increased after 24 [hours] of contact with thermal receipt papers, suggesting that thermal receipt paper is a major source of BPA in paper currencies (link).”
In one study published in Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 11 out of 13 thermal printing papers used for receipts were found to have BPA. Holding the paper for just five seconds increased the amount of BPA transferred by as much as 10 times, especially if the fingers were greasy or wet (link).
Another study conducted by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) revealed that 40 percent of receipts from gas stations, retail outlets, and groceries were BPA-contaminated (link).
The Dangers of BPA
Dr. Mercola says that BPA is an endocrine disrupter, meaning it interferes or mimics your body’s hormones and disrupts your endocrine system. Keep in mind that the glands in your endocrine system and the hormones they produce are crucial for body processes like regulating your mood, growth and development, metabolism, tissue function, and sexual and reproductive function.
Exposure to BPA may:
- Interfere with your metabolic processes, affecting the breakdown rates or synthesis of your natural hormones.
- Bind to a receptor but not activate it. The presence of BPA on the receptor prevents the natural hormone from binding to it.
- Mimic your hormones’ biological activity by binding to a cellular receptor. This may initiate your cell’s normal response to the naturally occurring hormone at the wrong time or to an excessive extent.
Unfortunately, BPA is one of the highest-production chemicals used worldwide. Ninety percent of all people tested in the United States were found to have BPA in their system. Adults and children with high BPA exposure may experience:
- Early puberty
- Disrupted reproductive cycles
- Decreased sperm quality
- Ovarian dysfunction
- Stimulation of mammary gland development
- Chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease
Pregnant women and young infants should also beware of BPA exposure, because it may lead to chromosomal errors in a developing fetus. This may lead to genetic damage and spontaneous miscarriages.
Is It Safe to Use Plastic Products Labeled “BPA-Free?”
Due to the increasing awareness on the dangers of BPA, many manufacturers like Philips Avent, Dr. Brown, Evenflow, and Playtex are now promoting BPA-free products. Major retailers like Kmart, Walmart, and CVS are also removing BPA-contaminated products from their stores.
However, Dr. Mercola says that just because a product is labeled “BPA-Free” does not guarantee that you are spared from this toxic chemical. Ninety-five percent of all plastic products tested positive for estrogenic activity, meaning they can still disrupt your hormones even if they are labeled BPA-free.
“It turns out that tests on plastics using this label have not been conducted under real-world conditions like running the plastics through a dishwasher or heating them in a microwave,” Dr. Mercola warns.
Tips to Avoid BPA
Products that contain BPA include:
- Plastic microwavable plates, ovenware, and utensils
- Plastic gallon milk bottles
- Plastic water bottles
- Baby toys, bottles, pacifiers, and sippy cups
- Tooth sealants
- Canned food and soda cans which have plastic lining in the cans
- Certain BPA-free plastics
Avoid these products as much as you can because they can add up over time. Switch to glass containers and utensils. Dr. Mercola also advises you to give your baby natural fabric toys instead of plastic ones.