People primarily get exposed to the harmful chemical bisphenol A (BPA) through food and beverages. However, BPA can also be absorbed into your body when handling receipts, according to a new research.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, indicates that those who handled thermal paper receipts for two hours without the use of gloves had higher concentrations of BPA in their urine, compared to those who use gloves. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Harvard School of Public Health and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center all participated in the study.

Twenty four volunteers participated in the study. They provided urine samples before and after each receipt handling. At the beginning of the study, BPA was detected in 83 percent of urine samples. At the end of the study, BPA was detected in 100 percent of samples.

"It is not something people have to get extremely alarmed about," Dr. Shelley Ehrlich of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center told Newsweek. "But this finding might be of concern to those who handle receipts continuously, like bank tellers and store cashiers."

"I'm a precautionary person, so I would say that women who are pregnant, of childbearing age, adolescents, other [vulnerable] people like that, they could consider some kind of protective gloves," she added. "Anything that acts as a barrier should be good."

BPA is used in some plastics, the lining of cans, and other food packaging. It is thought to disrupt hormones and has been linked to numerous health problems, including obesity in teenagers and reproductive problems in adults.

The researchers said that more studies are needed to confirm the nature of the results. Still, the results could hold implications for those who handle receipts often.

BPA is widely used in receipts. In 2011, researchers conducted a study analyzing approximately 200 samples of thermal receipts, mailing envelopes and printing paper collected from cities in the United States, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam. They found BPA in 94 percent of tested receipts. All of the U.S. receipts contained BPA, even those marked as "BPA-free."

"Up until now, the focus has been on oral exposure from foods," said Heather Patisaul, assistant professor of biology at North Carolina State University. "Sources of BPA other than food are something we should considering when thinking about how people are exposed to BPA and other chemicals in their daily lives."

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Tags: BPA