The research team chose to test thermal cash register receipts, which commonly have high levels of BPA on the surface, although the chemical is found in a spectrum of consumer products, including water bottles, dental composites and resins used in the lining of food and beverage containers.
The study found that subjects who used a variety of personal care, skin care and soap products, then handled the store receipts containing BPA, showed what the researchers termed to be a ‘rapid increase’ in the levels of BPA in their blood.
BPA is present in many every day items
"BPA first was developed by a biochemist and tested as an artificial estrogen supplement," said Frederick vom Saal, Curators professor of Biological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science at MU.
"As an endocrine disrupting chemical, BPA has been demonstrated to alter signaling mechanisms involving estrogen and other hormones. Store and fast food receipts, airline tickets, ATM receipts and other thermal papers all use massive amounts of BPA on the surface of the paper as a print developer.”
In the research paper, published in the journal Plos One, the team points to the fact that products such as hand sanitizers, hand creams, soaps and sunscreens are amongst the personal care items that are most readily associated with the increased adsorption rate.
Hand sanitizers, soaps and sunscreens
Specific to the study, the researchers had subjects clean their hands using hand sanitizer, and then handle the thermal paper store receipts.
As an additional step, the team also tested individuals who used hand sanitizer and then ate French fries, before handling the same type of store receipts.
In both instances, vom Saal says that the subjects tested positively for the rapid absorption of BPA into their blood streams.
"Our research found that large amounts of BPA can be transferred to your hands and then to the food you hold and eat as well as be absorbed through your skin," vom Saal said.
BPA banned in formulations, but said to be safe for packaging
The use of BPA, also known as Bisphenol A was banned as an ingredient in cosmetic formulations back in 2006, but it is used as a coating material in a number of packaging materials, including plastic bottles and aerosols, where it is used to prevent corrosion.
Cosmetic manufacturers and representative bodies argue that the use of Bisphenol A is essential to prevent the degredation of packaging to ensure the quality of the formulation, an ultimately human health.
Further to this, it is also underlined that compulsory safety assessments on the chemical have found that its inclusion in cosmetics packaging leads only to trace migrations of the substance that do not represent any risk to human health.