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EU Chemical Agency committee agrees that Bisphenol A in receipts poses risk to workers

The hormone disrupting chemical Bisphenol A (BPA) is used in many till (cash) receipts, and the French government has proposed that the EU should ban this use. This proposal has been under discussion in the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) of the European Chemical Agency (ECHA), who have just stated that they agree with the French government that this chemical presents a risk to workers:

Restriction proposal on bisphenol A 

RAC’s adopted opinion supports the French proposal to restrict the placing on the market of bisphenol A–containing thermal paper (e.g., point of sale tickets and receipts). RAC considered that the risk for workers (e.g., cashiers) handling thermal paper is not adequately controlled. Significantly, RAC did not identify a risk for consumers.

Following on from the RAC opinion, the Committee for Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) will continue its discussion on the proposed restriction on bisphenol A in September 2015. SEAC’s final opinion can be expected in December 2015.”

Essentially, the committee has agreed with the French proposal to restrict the use of BPA in thermal paper, and now it is down to a second committee, SEAC, to look at the socio-economic impacts of such a ban. This is a significant decision, given that large numbers of people work with till receipts and thermal paper, notably cashiers.

Michael Warhurst, Executive Director of CHEM Trust said:

“CHEM Trust very much welcomes this acceptance from the EU chemical agency that the use of bisphenol A in till receipts is not safe for workers. We now want to see rapid action to get this chemical out of till receipts, and to make sure it isn’t replaced by a chemical with similar hormone disrupting properties”

Research has shown that handling till receipts containing BPA can lead to the chemical being absorbed into our blood stream. Other recent research has found that low doses of BPA can affect parenting behaviour in mice and has strengthened the evidence that BPA could increase susceptibility to diabetes.

However, there are concerns that companies  substitute BPA  with similar chemicals (such as Bisphenol S [BPS] or F), that may also have hormone disrupting properties.

RAC also supported a proposal by ECHA to restrict the use of the brominated flame retardant decaBDE as a flame retardant in substances, mixtures and articles. DecaBDE is included in the REACH candidate list as a very persistent, very bioaccumulative and toxic chemical, with concerns regarding its neurotoxic effects. CHEM Trust highlighted the neurotoxic risks of this chemical in our 2007 briefing “Chemicals Compromising Our Children“.

  • This blog has been covered by Chemical Watch,
  • Chemical Watch have also reported our comments on how this recommendation is combining with other events to create a trend:

‘CHEM Trust also flags up that with Echa’s Risk Assessment Committee (Rac) backing the French proposal to restrict the placing on the market of thermal paper containing BPA (CW 11 June 2015), as well as recommendations on getting the substance out of medical devices (CW 4 March 2015), “the trend is towards increasing controls on BPA”.’


Update, 17th November 2015:

Update, 11th January 2016

  • New research from the USA has found that women with occupations that involve handling of till receipts have over twice as much BPA in their urine on average as those who don’t. This research strongly supports the role of till receipts as a source of human exposure to BPA.

Update, 19th July 2016