For a long time, cashiers were considered a high-risk group, as BPA used to be a primary component of thermal paper used in receipt printing. Photo: MPCA Photos/Flckr
A recent report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) has warned about alarmingly high levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) in participants from different European countries. The study highlights a concerning trend observed in participants from 11 countries: widespread exposure to BPA, a chemical known to have adverse effects on the reproductive, endocrine, and immune systems, primarily through dietary intake.
Earlier this year, the European Food Safety Agency slashed the acceptable daily intake of BPA from 4 micrograms per kilogram of body weight to 0.2 nanograms—a reduction of about 20,000 times. Despite policy initiatives over the past decade to limit BPA exposure, exceedingly high levels of the chemical were found in all participants in France, Luxembourg and Portugal, with other countries trailing closely behind.
In addition to general exposure via food packaging, which includes plastic containers, baby bottles, and epoxy resin-lined pipes used for water delivery, specific groups of workers also face occupational exposure to Bisphenol A. For a prolonged period of time, cashiers were singled out as a high-risk group, as BPA used to be a primary component of thermal paper used in receipt printing. Although the use of BPA in this context was restricted in 2020, one of its substitutes, Bisphenol S (BPS), remains a topic of controversy. According to the EEA report, BPS is currently categorized as a substance of “very high concern” on the European Chemical Agency’s lists, owing to its potential for endocrine disruption and toxic properties.
While efforts have been undertaken to raise awareness about the health hazards posed by BPA, it is becoming obvious that substantial progress will depend on how much pressure is applied on industries still employing this chemical. Substantial support must be provided to the general public to facilitate the adoption of safe alternatives in packaging, such as glass and stainless steel. Beyond sharing public health guidance, governments and EU agencies alike should take steps to ensure the affordability and accessibility of safe alternatives for all consumers. The introduction of measures aimed at limiting the industry’s inclination to maximize profits at the expense of public health, despite clear evidence of the dangers associated with BPA and similar substances, is imperative in this context.