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MU researcher highlights levels of BPA found in common items, and what amplifies absorption

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Studies show that adults are exposed to the chemical Bisphenol A, called BPA, in thermal receipts and that using hand sanitizer increases absorption rates.

FOX 4's Loren Halifax went to University of Missouri in Columbia to interview Dr. Fred vom Saal, PhD, about the research and his new book, "Integrative Environmental Medicine."

Dr. vom Saal says that research studies around the globe show we are all exposed to many chemicals every day in our environment. Out of about 87,000 chemicals in the environment, the U.S. government regulates about 1,000 of those. BPA is one of the chemicals now regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, but the regulations primarily focus on products for babies and children.

BPA is still regularly used in the linings of food packaging, like cans, and on the surface of thermal receipts. The coating of BPA on thermal receipts is an invisible powder that reacts to form the ink.

His research showed that adults absorbed that BPA from receipts directly into the bloodstream through their skin after handling thermal receipts and that women absorbed more than men due to thinner skin. His research also found that blood levels of BPA spiked after the people in the study used hand sanitizer, because the ingredients disrupt the skin's natural barriers and increase absorption. He says printed with regular ink are safer, but the ink still contains some BPA.

Dr. vom Saal says to find ways most convenient to you to handle thermal receipts as little as possible. You can fold the receipt with the surface to the inside and put it away, or take a photo with a cell phone and discard the receipt or ask for email receipts when possible. He says never hold receipts in your mouth while putting away your change and keys, and use soap and water for hand cleaning instead of hand sanitizer.

He also recommends doing these things to decrease your overall exposure to environmental toxins and pollutants:

--Filter your air using quality HEPA air filters when possible.
--Filter your drinking water. He recommends charcoal filtration systems on your faucet or under your sink as a highly effective and low cost approach. Charcoal filtration combined with reverse osmosis is the most effective, but also the most expensive.
--Avoid eating processed foods, especially from cans that use BPA in the lining.
--Avoid pesticides by eating organic food when possible. Use the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists on the ewg.org website to prioritize and save money when you buy.
--Use other guides on ewg.org to find safer products for skin, hair, baby and home in order to decrease your exposure to combined classes of chemicals.

Click on this link for more information about BPA in thermal receipts.