We live in a toxic sludge and Resistance is futile. There is no good argument against this statement, but you can at least start with awareness.
Knowing where your toxic environmental exposures are can at least minimize the impact. Many would prefer to live blissfully unaware that he or she is surrounded by chemicals well known to create health hazards. The thyroid gland alone is known as the “yellow canary” of the human body, affected by toxins long before other systems of the body. Didn’t you ever wonder why your thyroid gland just “gave out” in your twenties??
In the case of environmental chemicals creating harm, what you don’t know WILL kill you.
Top of the list of these chemicals is Bisphenol A, or just BPA. Notoriously associated with plastic water bottles and the linings of aluminum cans (yes–just in case the mercury, artifical sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup wasn’t enough to destroy your health…) and most soup cans. There are clear associations between BPA exposure and obesity, diabetes and certain cancers (mainly hormonally driven cancers like breast). It’s not good.
So just avoid plastic water bottles and cans and you’ll be OK, right? Turns out it may not be quite that easy. This particular study goes into a very common exposure that, if you’re aware of it, will allow you to make some changes to lower your exposure.
Thermal cash register receipts. Yup. Those near-ubiquitous curly sheets of paper that we all have because we all use plastic to pay for just about everything in life these days. In the study, 24 students handled register receipts for two hours and, one week later, performed the same set of activities with nitrile gloves. Here’s what they found:
- Prior to exposure, 83% had BPA in urine samples; this jumped to 100% after handling receipts.
- Urine levels jumped from an average of 1.8 micrograms/L to 5.8 after exposure.
- One participants, after drinking 4 cans of beverage, was excluded. The urine level was 49.3.
- There was no rise in urine BPA levels with the use of gloves.
These are some scary findings. First, the massive increase after drinking canned beverages should put everyone on alert. Second, there is a very real increase in your body’s exposure to BPA after handling register receipts. So what can we all do to lower our risk other than wear blue nitrile gloves around everywhere we go?
Obviously, reducing our exposure to these receipts is first and foremost. For our office, although we are dealing with maybe 10 receipts per day and not hundreds, the concern is there. Handling the receipts with dry hands rather than when wet or greasy can lower your absorption of the BPA. Do not recycle thermal receipts as the BPA may get incorporated into the recycled paper. Wash your hands after handling receipts and never use an alcohol-based hand cleaner, as this will increase BPA absorption through the skin.
And, for god’s sake, never gnaw on your receipts.
Follow these simple guidelines can help cut your risk of exposure. But, as I mentioned, you need to be aware of how you are being exposed before you can begin to protect yourself.