Study finds bisphenol A on money
December 8th, 2010
12:01 AM ET

Study finds bisphenol A on money

A new report says Bisphenol A (BPA), the controversial hormone disrupting chemical widely used in plastics, is turning up in an unlikely place–the money in your wallet.

Researchers suggest that BPA is rubbing off cashier receipts and onto bills, according to a report titled "On The Money: BPA on Dollar Bills and Receipts," published by the Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, and the Washington Toxics Coalition (WTC).

Ericka Schreder, a staff Scientist with WTC and author of the report, says lab tests confirm the chemical rubs off receipts onto the skin after holding it for just 10 seconds. WTC researchers first tested 22 thermal paper receipts collected from businesses in 10 states and the District of Columbia. Half contained higher than trace amounts of BPA. They also tested 22 $1 bills and found BPA on 21 of them. Schreder says contamination most likely occurs once receipts come in contact with money in places like wallets and cash register drawers.

"Levels on dollar bills were lower than on receipts, but the fact that our currency is contaminated with a hormone-disrupting chemical illustrates how our current chemical law is failing us," Schreder says. "Even the most careful consumer can't avoid BPA when it's so pervasive that it even contaminates money."

But Kathryn St. John, a BPA specialist at the American Chemistry Council says while some receipts made from thermal paper can have low levels of BPA, research shows it's safe.

"To the limited extent BPA is absorbed through the skin, it is converted to a biologically inactive metabolite that is rapidly eliminated from the body," St. John said. "Biomonitoring data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows that consumer exposure to BPA, which would include any exposure from receipts, is extremely low. Typical exposure from all sources is about 1,000 times below safe intake levels set by government bodies in Europe and the U.S. In comparison, the trace levels of BPA claimed to be present in dollar bills are insignificant."

In July, The Environmental Working Group released a similar study about BPA and cash register receipts. EWG researchers tested 36 and found 40 percent had high levels of the chemical.

Environmental groups and public health advocates have linked BPA to a number of serious health problems including cancer, diabetes, infertility, early puberty and heart disease. According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), 93 percent of urine samples from people over the age of 6 have detectable levels of BPA, but research linking some health problems—particularly in adults–to the chemical has been inconclusive. Still, earlier this year the FDA said recent studies "provide reason for some concern about the potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children."

Schreder says with the growing body of evidence, it's clear reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)–which gives the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate chemicals–should be a priority.

"We need to update the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act with a new chemical law that both requires companies to provide health information on chemicals they produce and ensures that chemicals that can cause cancer, infertility, and other health problems can't be used in everyday products."

soundoff (1,658 Responses)
  1. broke

    truedat turtle2340

    December 8, 2010 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Barry

    HEY>> What about the first fax paper, those long rolls, must be lots and lots in them

    December 8, 2010 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Valerie

    The problem is that the amount of BPA deemed safe by our government organizations is about 50 times more than the amount that was shown to cause problems in lab rats. So what is considered safe amounts is not so. BPA was invented in the 30s as an estrogen replacement, but turned out to be too toxic and yet was incredibly effective at binding plastics among other uses. Hence, today it is used in all types of manufacturing, the only problem is when we injest it.

    The good news is that it is much less toxic on the skin than in the mouth. So whatever you touch, always make sure to wash your hands before touching your mouth or anything you will be eating.

    December 8, 2010 at 10:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. tony

    Just for comparison, the Oh So Popular Antibiotic CIPRO crippled and agonized my perfectly healthy wife 13 months ago, and she is still uncured. Looks like the weakened tendons and nerve damage is permanent. There is no treatment and the M/F still don't know (or care) how it causes these problems. Thank you FDA for de-regulating the drug industry testing. NOT!!!

    December 8, 2010 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SnowBear

      What was her original dx? Her Cipro dosage?
      I've taken Cipro many many times with no (known) problems, as have many.
      I'm so sorry for what you guys are going through, but how could her doctor have predicted this??

      December 8, 2010 at 10:57 | Report abuse |
    • MrsFizzy

      Wow, helpful comment SnowBear. I'm sure it's kind of hard for them to put it in perspective like that! FDA would sweep cases like that under the rug as long as they could before doing anything about it. It's all vested interests.

      December 8, 2010 at 15:23 | Report abuse |
  5. Train

    Use a debit card. Hand washable. Make sure you also wash your tin foil hat.

    December 8, 2010 at 10:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jason

    was that the only chemical found, or the only one to provoke a response. i remember the days when finding traces of cocaine on money was news..... aaah... those days are gone...

    December 8, 2010 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. FedUp2

    Why is this the first time I have heard that receipts are toxic? I've let my kids chew those things up for God's sake! Who the hell said it was OK for them to use toxic chemicals in the first place? The corruption that has led to massive deregulation in this world is out of control, and for the sake of a few dollars more for billionaire corporations, we all get cancer. Yippie! We should give those rich people running those corporations that poison us and our children a big tax break, so they can kill more of us faster.

    December 8, 2010 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Valerie

      It's in the transfer ribbon (ink ribbon) that binds ink to the paper on receipts, not the paper itself. But that stuff rubs off easily.

      December 8, 2010 at 11:55 | Report abuse |
  8. Tanya

    Just a tip for cashiers: you can wear latex-free gloves to protect yourselves at work. You can buy them in blue or white color in Walmart. I've seen a couple of cashiers wearing them.

    December 8, 2010 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Gordon

    A pretty shady story when you don't define what "higher than trace amounts" is. Is that ppm, ppb, or at a % level? I'm sure there is a whole host of trace amounts chemicals on our currency. Currency tends to be pretty filthy stuff. It needs to be stated what that level is before before one opines that this is somehow dangerous to our health and well being when we don't have an idea of the true level is. That's science.

    December 8, 2010 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Craig

    Time to git rid of paper and use coins.

    December 8, 2010 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Common Sense

    Regarding BPA harm potential, the public misses one key concept: All the tests that show it to be harmful are based on injecting BPA into the bloodstream. All real exposure is through ingestion, with some small amount also skin-absorbed. Real world exposure is not harmful. Think of the anology of poisonous vs. venomous – rattlesnake venom can kill you when injected by the snake, but if you drink it (unlikely) the body metabolized it, and it is harmless. Think about it.

    December 8, 2010 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wzrd1

      Mucous membrane exposure, such as the mouth and the entire GI tract increases the amount absorbed. While stomach acids MAY neutralize the chemical (there is no current information on whether or not HCL will break down BPA), the other mucous membranes will absorb the BPA and bring it right to the blood stream.
      And your analogy is poor, as rattle snake venom is toxic IF it's metabolized. If you're referring to the stomach acids neutralizing the venom, think again. Oral rattle snake venom would cause nausea and vomiting and if one has esophageal varices or an ulcer, it WILL enter the blood stream. There HAS been one death from ingestion of rattle snake venom.

      December 8, 2010 at 10:56 | Report abuse |
  12. Dave

    Really? The American Chemical Council is the opposing argument in this article? They are a group of lobbyist that fight to remove government regulations for Chemical Manufacturers! I could have told you what their stance was! They left off the fact that while the levels are low, the rate of exposure is SUPER high so it can cause problems... CNN needs to check their sources. Talk to scientist, not lobbyists!

    December 8, 2010 at 10:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Fairdinkum93

    How much BPA are we talking about – femtograms? This article and most of the comments highlight just how scientifically illiterate the nation is. Water is toxic in high doses too!! Please quantify!!!

    December 8, 2010 at 10:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. steve

    The plastic residue is showing up from cashiers placing plastic bags around the cards to make them scan. i used to sell and install credit card machines. We would instruct the cashiers to use a clear/translucent bag if the card wouldnt read. Thsi would save them from paying a higher rate by manualling punching in the number or calling it in.

    December 8, 2010 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Scott D.

    Now they want to scare us into not handling money or receipts. This should advance us perfectly into the world of no cash, just a simple bar code in the skin providing access to all of your bank accounts. They will be able to take your money and download a receipt right to your email. Don't look behind you the anti christ is coming.

    December 8, 2010 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. newt


    December 8, 2010 at 11:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Emma1210

    Not that I have a problem with rarely having cash; now I guess it's really a good thing!

    December 8, 2010 at 11:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Chris B

    Am I the only one who noticed that CNN is using a very outdated file photo above. $20 $10 and $5 bills haven't had that small picture of the presidents on them in like 5 years. Actually I don't recall the last time I saw a $20 bill that didn't have the blue and peach cool new color scheme.

    December 8, 2010 at 11:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ADD

      Hey look, a butterfly!!!

      December 14, 2010 at 11:33 | Report abuse |
  19. rn_damia

    3 shells...HAhahaha! Also, these days so many products have 'dangerous' chemicals in them... my new car uses a chemical in their dye which made my fingers blister, found out along the way also allergic to nickel (coins), and nitrile products (replacing the latex gloves). Basically, the nifty CHEAP chemicals used to replace natural compounds. Really fun to deal with in the medical field- my patients love the huge cotton glove covering my blood pressure bulb!

    December 8, 2010 at 11:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. eram

    Kathryn St. John is a LIAR. If BPA is rapidly eleminated from the body, why is it showing up in newborn's cord blood samples? 90 Percent of Cord Blood from US Babies Tests Positive for BPA. Make no mistake–industry rules this country and that's why there's so much disease/illness–people like St. John make me want to f*&king puke.

    December 8, 2010 at 11:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. evil

    bspurloc, I know plenty of business men and owners who smoke trees. Go watch reefer madness again like a good little sheep.

    December 8, 2010 at 11:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Tony

    I think all of the chemicals on money is one small part of a larger conspiracy to kill off the rich people.

    December 8, 2010 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Jdoggy8484

    @ti.du.s - You take 10 seconds to wipe??? Yikes...forget BPA, you got other issues dude!!

    December 8, 2010 at 11:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Ichi

    Really?? Maybe they should send me a roll of 100$s, just to double check, of course.

    December 8, 2010 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Glad I'm not in retail

    They say the average person does not absorb enough of this from touching a receipt or money to have any adverse effects. Well what about someone who works a cash register, who touches hundreds of receipts and dollar bills per day? Might be an interesting medical study to see if people who work cash registers have higher levels of this stuff.

    December 8, 2010 at 12:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. jamie

    wait, people actually pay for stuff using physical bills still?

    December 8, 2010 at 12:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • David

      My weed guy doesn't have merchant processing yet.

      December 9, 2010 at 04:30 | Report abuse |
  27. thinker

    I forgot what I was going to write, this article is so boring that my mind started to wonder while I was reading it. Now im still trying to figure out what im having for diner tonight, guess ill go smoke a cigarette and whink about how to avoid touching reciepts (thats what gets it on the CASH for all you brainiacs who say you only use DEBIT CARDS)

    December 8, 2010 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Sandy

    The only sane response to this article is to make sure you wash your hands before you eat and hope for the best. Sounds simple, but what we can easily do at home is almost never done in restaurants.

    December 8, 2010 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Plastic Only

    That's why I mostly use only plastic, and not cash. I decline receipts for anything under $20. If you knew how dirty money actually is, you'd probably wear gloves while handling it. BPA is only one of many harmful substances found on money, not the least of which are germs.

    December 8, 2010 at 12:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Howie

      That's why you will probably spend the latter part of your life extremely ill and will die before your time. Our systems are designed to learn how to fight toxins and infections. If we never give that system a chance to work, it fails. Germaphobes like you are weakening the gene pool. The bacteria, virus', and toxins we encounter in everyday life make us STRONGER. Get a clue.

      December 8, 2010 at 13:23 | Report abuse |
  30. Shouldbestudying

    Well, of course they're finding BPA on all the money they're testing. The bills they're using are the old ones–look at the picture!

    December 8, 2010 at 12:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. CanNorth

    This is why I make my own money

    December 8, 2010 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Ruth

    To those who make fun of this news, making it a joke: This is the tip of an iceberg, the iceberg of pollutants flooding our environment. If you think otherwise, watch "Erin Brockovich." Or go to my home state of Wisconsin and go fishing and catch fish that have tumors all over their skin from factory and agricultural pollutants. Or go to Pennsylvania and drink some "fracked" groundwater. The list is almost endless unlike the laughter from these posters' ignorant comments.

    December 8, 2010 at 12:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Doe Reilly

      Amen Ruth! You took the words right out of my mouth . . . history tells us a lot if we bother to learn it! But hey, let's just be ignorant and think it's the media trying to scare us. Geez some ppl drive me crazy!

      December 8, 2010 at 18:23 | Report abuse |
  33. James I. Mealy

    BPA on money probably comes from the thermal paper receipts that cashiers handle all day. Thermal register receipts contain as much as 2% BPA by weight. This hug source of BPA is readily available at the surface of the receipt and absorbed by the skin when handled. Considering all the furor over the tiny bit of BPA from other sources, I am surprised that so little attention has been given to this rich and ubiquitous source of BPA. There are some excellent articles on the subject at sciencenews dot org.

    December 8, 2010 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. marty

    Seems to be a new occupational hazard for pole dancers ...

    December 8, 2010 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. PublicHealth1

    @bspurloc: Obviously you don't understand vaccines. Vaccines are magical, evil chemicals. Vaccines TEACH your body how to respond to disease, to create antibodies. Teach your body to protect itself BEFORE the real disease enters. So if your goal is for your body to learn how to fight disease, get a vaccine.

    December 8, 2010 at 12:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. PublicHealth1

    @bspurloc: Obviously you don't understand vaccines. Vaccines are NOT magical, evil chemicals. Vaccines TEACH your body how to respond to disease, to create antibodies. Teach your body to protect itself BEFORE the real disease enters. So if your goal is for your body to learn how to fight disease, get a vaccine.

    December 8, 2010 at 12:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Romas

    Had to follow the links to get to the original report. Typical approach by those against everything. The number they quote are not put in perspective to anything an idivdual can understand or relate to. 2.2 % BPA on a sales receipt – but that is only 2.5 micrograms – a very tiny amount, smaller than you can see. In fact for a very light weight person (<100 lbs) that would be an amount in the parts per trillion on their body. I am a chemist and can tell you that with the advances in analytical instrumentation one can measure ridiculously low amount. Values that low can statistically be considered zero (which is a difficult value to attain). On a molecular scale it becomes even more irrelavent. BPA is about 13 times larger (on a mw basis) than water so it is equivalent to 0.2 micrograms of water. And everything occurs on a molecular basis, including toxicity. I wouldn't worry about these small amounts of BPA because there are small amounts of every toxin everywhere, some natural and some man-made.

    December 8, 2010 at 13:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Ha

    We are so going to make ourselves extinct.

    December 8, 2010 at 13:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Howie

    More media hysteria for the ignorant and easily led. BPA is harmless.

    December 8, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Christopher Alan Fields - Muncie Indiana USA

    Bisphenol A is one of the many Dangerous Chemicals that we are being Subjected Too it is in Plastic Bottles and other Containers and they use it to Coat the Inside of Aluminum Cans. This is Only 1 of the Many Dangerous Chemicals and Toxic Waste that Our Governments are Purposely Subjecting us too with there Eugenics Programs. Alex Jones has been Warning about all of the Eugenics Programs at Info Wars and Prison Planet.

    December 8, 2010 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Bubbazap

    And if they tested every bill in circulation they will find Cocane on them. Better not touch the bills or you will fail the drug test. LOL

    They don't even tell what amount of BPA they detected on the bills. What a JOKE. To be scientific they should have released the amount found and what the EPA says the allowable limit is. My bet would be it is in the 1 part per 1000 or 10000 of the allowable limit.


    December 8, 2010 at 13:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. goatonastick

    haha, we finally have laws for safe money, and the retail receipts are now contaminating them! oh boy...

    December 8, 2010 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. George B

    This is the problem with reporting science to a public that generally doesn't understand how the world works. The number of atoms in any object (like a dollar bill) is mind-bogglingly large. Statistically it's likely that with a sensitive enough instrument you'll find any given chemical in any ordinary object you test. Laboratory instrumentation nowadays is incredibly sensitive – able to detect amounts well below one in a billion. The real question is if those levels are at all significant. What's (unfortunately) buried in the middle of the article is that those levels are 1,000 times lower than what's currently considered safe. Just because we can measure it doesn't mean it's harmful.

    December 8, 2010 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. stop the madness

    Great, now yuppies have another fake problem to focus on other than their narcissism.

    December 8, 2010 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Joey

    Gives new meaning to "filthy lucre."

    December 8, 2010 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. BobaFett

    Good thing no one carries cash anymore. But really the estrogenic effects of BPA help counter the testosterogenic effects of... everything else. It's all about balance.

    December 8, 2010 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. chris

    it's probably on your computer mouse and keyboard as well...

    December 8, 2010 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. dike

    I only use pure plastic, with clean BPA, no more cheap contaminated $$'s


    December 8, 2010 at 14:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. dike

    For all those who have little cash think of it as a good thing, you will live long poor, or forever broke...
    For all those who have a lot of cash this is a scheme to kill you so give it away
    For all the drug dealers.... its a no win, you wont know what will kill you, drugs, the people taking your drugs or the BPA...
    For those printing their own money dont take a receipt.

    December 8, 2010 at 14:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. vbscript2

    Forget DMA, we should be far more concerned about Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO.) Read more about the dangers of dhmo here: www . dhmo . org / facts.html .

    December 8, 2010 at 15:24 | Report abuse | Reply
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