January 15, 2021


Is that Hand Sanitizer Letting in Toxic Chemicals?

Okay, so before we get too wild, the answer is yes, but you should be okay.  Most paper-based receipts we see today are chemically altered to allow graphics to be imprinted on them using heat, saving companies a ton of money on ink.  Want to prove it?  Press your fingernail facedown on that receipt in your pocket.  See if you can draw a smiley face! But, before we start to judge companies for trying to save a dollar let’s take a look in the mirror, do you like paying for printer ink?  Yeah, me either.  Still, this process isn’t without its faults. 

Thermal paper contains the chemicals Bisphenol A or Bisphenol S, you may know them better by their short form: BPA’s and BPS’s.  These are what allows they dye contained within the paper to be seen on the surface.  A 2018 study showed that, out of over 200 receipts collected, 93% of them tested positive for BPA or BPS.  This study includes receipts from your favorite fast-food chains and retailers, we will let you read the report to find out who’s who.

Ok, so we know these chemicals are present in the paper we touch on a regular basis.  Now we’re thinking “But I only handle these receipts for a few minutes before I throw them away-I should be okay right?”  Yes.  If you are a healthy adult that is not pregnant.  That is essentially the answer.  Even though there have been a few small independent studies showing the hormonal reaction in developing mammals, no government-mandated testing has been done to confirm BPA or BPS caused significant problems in adolescent brain development, behavior, and the prostate. 

Here is where the hand sanitizer comes in.   The more you use hand sanitizers, the more susceptible your body can be to infections.  This includes allowing outside particles to enter the body.  In a recent study, the University of Missouri found that “using hand sanitizer prior to, or after handling thermal receipts has led up to a one-hundred-fold increase of the absorption of BPA’s and BPS’s” into the bloodstream. [1]

Can we prevent this from happening?  There are two solutions:

1) Stop touching paper receipts

2) Turn to the digital option

There are few reasons the average consumer needs to handle a receipt after purchase, and for the majority of those that do, it is only to take a picture for the expense report.  Let’s eliminate the need for paper receipts by selecting the electronic version at checkout.  Doing so will not only save paper, but will also prevent us from worrying about the dangers contained within that small, innocent piece of parchment.

[1] Hormann, A., Saal, F., Nagel, S., Stahlhut, R., Moyer, C., Ellersieck, M., . . . Taylor, J. (n.d.). Holding Thermal Receipt Paper and Eating Food after Using Hand Sanitizer Results in High Serum Bioactive and Urine Total Levels of Bisphenol A (BPA). Retrieved January 11, 2021, from

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