The very real concern about those very long CVS receipts

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.

SUBSCRIBE TO EHN'S MUST-READ DAILY NEWSLETTER: ABOVE THE FOLD
From our Newsroom
climate change

Peter Dykstra: A year into the Biden Administration, environmental hope is sparse

As President Biden completes his first year in the White House, hopes for dramatic change on climate and environment blow away.

Yoga pants

Investigation finds evidence of PFAS in workout and yoga pants

Testing finds fluorine—an indicator of PFAS—in women’s sportswear from popular brands like Old Navy and Lululemon.

Africa cooking pollution

What do new cookstoves in Ghana and air conditioners in NYC have in common? Energy justice.

Combating energy poverty and energy insecurity are critical elements to achieving environmental health equity for billions worldwide.

lead pollution

LISTEN: Lead pollution and mental health

EHN reporter Kristina Marusic talks with Living on Earth about polluted water and mental health.

Stay informed: sign up for Above the Fold
The most consequential news on your health and the planet: delivered to your inbox every morning. (Weekly roundup also available)