There’s been a lot of chatter in recent years about how one of the dirtiest places is the bottom of a woman’s handbag (imagine all the germs you pick up placing it on a bathroom floor or supermarket cart). But have you ever thought about what’s inside your bag? Many people have gotten wiser about the dangers of the toxic chemical bisphenol (BPA), which had been prevalent in many plastics. It’s since been removed from some containers and most baby bottles and toys. But, surprise! It still exists in a relatively high level in some every day items right inside your wallet.
Those cash register receipts you may be saving are laden with BPA. And not just a little bit. According to experts at the Warner Babcock Institute of Green Chemistry, “The average cash register receipt…will have 60 to 100 milligrams of free BPA.” That’s a shocking figure when you take into account that exposure levels are usually measured in nanograms (one-millionth of a milligram).
A recent study showed that paper money, especially from some countries, can be high in BPA, and that there could be a risk associated with just handling it. A study published in 2011 in the journal Environmental Science & Technology found that the highest levels were in paper money from Brazil, the Czech Republic and Australia, while the lowest occurred in paper money from the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
BPA exposure has been linked to an increased cancer risk, as well as early menstruation in girls and delayed puberty in boys, among other things. What to do?
Many stores now offer the option of email receipts but if you do take a paper one with you, be sure to wash your hands frequently, especially before eating. And don’t keep them in your wallet or handbag for a long period of time, where they can mix with other things. Save them in an envelope in a safe place at home.
Same goes for handling money. Handwashing and limited exposure are key!