Bisphenol A’ Found on Paper Money

November 12, 2012

‘Bisphenol A’ Found on Paper Money

BPA is a shortened name for bisphenol A. This chemical is common in plastics. BPA, when absorbed into the body behaves similarly to a hormone. It is called an endocrine disruptor and may have effects on behavior and reproduction. It appears that small children and infants are most at risk from its effects. This has caused responsible manufacturers to remove it from any consumer items aimed at children such as baby bottles.

How does BPS get onto paper money?

Research has indicated that paper money can be contaminated with BPA. A study published in ‘Environmental Science & Technology’ states that 156 forms of paper money from 21 countries were analyzed and all of them had BPA present. The report also found that different countries had varying levels of BPA with the US being about average. Australia, Brazil and the Czech Republic had the highest levels whereas Thailand and the Philippines were at the lower end of the scale.

The route the BPA takes to get onto the money is still subject to investigation but it is known that BPA is used in thermal receipts to stop the ink smudging. Consumers buy things and put the receipt in with the change causing some of the BPA to transfer from the receipt to the paper money.

How does BPA get into our bodies?

The common method for BPA when entering our bodies is thru skin absorption, and the study only addressed this area. However there are other ways, if a child puts paper money in their mouth then some BPA would be ingested. It is also accepted that only minimal amounts of BPA pass thru the skin into the body.

The report has indicated that people who work with cash on a daily basis are more likely to absorb more BPA thru the skin. It suggests that further study should take place to assess the risks posed by BPA contamination on paper money and on other everyday items such as newspapers and tissue paper. It is also suggested that cashiers and bank tellers should consider wearing protective gloves. However the amount of contamination absorbed by the skin is very low. The researchers identified an interesting point. Although BPA levels in house dust are lower than BPA levels on paper money the amount of BPA taken in the body from house dust is at least ten times more than from paper money.

Differing Views!

Commentators assert that the new findings confirm previous research and broaden the community’s understanding of the issue. Andy Igrejas, national campaign director of Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families in Washington, D.C., says “There is only so far that we can go in protecting ourselves from these chemicals because exposures are so ubiquitous and involve things that are hard to avoid, like money”. He also says that we must consider the big picture of aggregate BPA exposure.

Other health professionals conclude that any health risks associated with BPA in money may be highest for cashier and bank tellers. But they also admit that BPA exposure is a controversial subject and many questions about potential health risks have yet to be answered conclusively. There are more studies underway.

Not surprisingly the chemical industry plays down the findings. Their representative says that it’s not a surprise that paper money has traces of many substances and micro organisms considering how common it is and how it is used. They also state that absorption thru the skin is not easily done. They also state that the amounts of BPA found are very small and are way below safe intake levels as set by regulatory bodies throughout the world.


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