Receipts

Today, I'm sitting in my favorite cafe - they specialize in tea, volumes and volumes of tea - matcha, Moroccan mint, oolong, osmanthus, they've got it all. (Don't worry. They use loose-leaf tea...) Only one coffee drink among the bunch. Kind of crazy.

They don't open until 11am. So, that's inconvenient. What can I say, they're a bit off-kilter for a cafe. That's probably why it's my favorite place to work.

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So, here I am. When I ordered at the register, with the mug I always bring in that says Coffee on it (As I type this, I realize for the first time the irony since I don't drink coffee...I wish I could say this is some health choice...but it's more that a couple sips of coffee makes me wired like most people on five cups of the stuff...it's not pretty). The barista recognizes me and my cup at this point. She anticipates at least half of my complicated order. I use their iPad to enter my phone number for a receipt, and no paper is exchanged.

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And, no BPA. Because, as you may have heard, BPA is prevalent in receipts. Those receipts that leave a black mark (or a blue or red one) when you brush a pen against them or scratch them? That's BPA in action - it makes thermal paper do what it does.

And, because BPA is readily absorbed through the skin, our regular contact with receipts, especially when we have to collect them for work reimbursements, is not so great.

Add on top of that, lotion and hand sanitizer accelerate BPA absorption up to 185 times. That's because lotions and such contain “dermal penetration enhancers” - to enhance your absorption of their active ingredients, these "enhancers" break down your skin’s protective barrier. And, if you put on lotion and then touch a receipt...bad news. Let alone what may be more likely. That you're in a public place. You touch a receipt. Your hands feel contaminated by all the public stuff. You use hand sanitizer. Boom. Enter bisphenol-A. 

So, what can you do?

Here are some ways to reduce your exposure:

1. Opt for electronic receipts whenever possible. Or say no to a receipt when you can

2. Wash your hands shortly after touching receipts - sadly, it needs to be within four minutes

3. Don't use hand sanitizer (in general, and in particular) in the hopes that it's cleaning everything off

4. Don't recycle receipts. This adds BPA into recycled paper products that can end up in your pizza box

5. If you need to save receipts, save them in an envelope separated from other items you touch regularly, like money and credit cards. That way the BPA doesn't rub off, as it will, onto everything else.

And, as always, living heathily is about doing what you can. It's impossible to do everything. We do what we can.