The very real concern about those very long CVS receipts

We can joke about getting a receipt for cough drops that's longer than a small child. But let's talk seriously about what your skin picks up when you handle that ream of thermal paper.

Vox's hilarious story about the ridiculous length of CVS receipts – the height of a small child? the length of a sofa? – failed to mention one of the more pressing concerns about being handed a ream of thermal-sensitive paper upon checkout: Exposure to bisphenol-A, or BPA.


Most receipt paper is imprinted with BPA. When heat is applied, it bonds with a clear dye coating the paper, turning the dye dark (You can see this vividly in the Vox story, where the author ironed a CVS receipt to better measure its length and the receipt turned black). Abundant science shows that the chemical – an endocrine disruptor shown in lab tests to disrupt metabolism, reproductive and immune systems – easily migrates from paper to skin.

A 2012 study estimated that 88 percent of our exposure to BPS, a close cousin to BPA, comes via handling receipts. And scientists have concluded that we all have trace amounts of BPA and/or its cousins, BPS and BPZ, among others, in our bodies.

In January, editor Brian Bienkowski wrote about a study in Michigan that found 93 percent of all paper receipts contained hormane-altering chemicals. And last month Chemical and Engineering News reported that elevated levels of BPA picked up from receipts can linger in the body for a week or more.

Which makes us suggest that there's got to be a better way for CVS to get coupons and alerts into the hands of its customers.

Read the, ahem, lengthy story on CVS's receipts on Vox here.

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