Testimony: Supporting a Ban on Sales Receipts Containing BPA

By Evi Lowman
Campaign Organizer

SB 0175 Public Health – Sales Receipts Containing Bisphenol-A – Prohibition
Additional Groups Supporting: Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Maryland LCV,  Maryland Environmental Health Network, Food & Water Watch

POSITION: The groups listed above support the passage of SB 175.

Maryland PIRG is a statewide, non-partisan, non-profit advocacy group that takes on powerful interests, working to win concrete results for our health and well-being on behalf of thousands of members across the state.

We would like to thank the members of this committee and the Maryland General Assembly for their leadership in passing legislation restricting toxic chemicals from consumer products including bans on cadmium, lead, TCEP and TDCPP (part of the TRIS flame retardant family) in children’s products, the toxic flame retardant deca-BDE in household products, and bisphenol-A in baby bottles and infant formula containers. SB 175 is another step in the right direction.

BACKGROUND: Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical known to act as a synthetic sex hormone (mimicking and disrupting estrogen). BPA exposure is widespread and the CDC found it in 93% of Americans, with higher levels found in young children -- in quantities at or above those linked with health problems in animal studies.   It is even found in umbilical cord blood, amniotic fluid and placental tissue.

HEALTH IMPACTS: Over 200 independent scientific studies document that very low doses of BPA is linked to a staggering number of health problems including male and female infertility, breast and prostate cancer, thyroid dysfunction, anxiety, obesity, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, altered development of the brain and immune systems, lowered sperm count and early puberty. Studies have also demonstrated the ability of BPA to cross the placenta into highly vulnerable developing fetuses, and also to kill placental cells. The University of Michigan just released a new study that indicates the potential for prenatal BPA exposure to have long-lasting effects on metabolic health, into adulthood.  There have also been recent studies on the cardiovascular impacts and developmental neurotoxicity  or BPA.

BPA IN THERMAL PAPER: BPA has been used in thermal imaging papers – often used for cash register receipts - for many years. A powdery layer of BPA is coated onto a piece of paper along with invisible ink, which merge and provide "color" when subject to heat or pressure. BPA in thermal paper receipts is unbound and readily transmits to hands. Scientific studies have shown the presence of BPA on receipt paper, the ability of that BPA to transfer from paper to hands, especially if hands are greasy (i.e., covered in lotion or food-based oils), and for the BPA to penetrate the skin, resulting in BPA in the bloodstream via an exposure route that does not include the metabolic processes of the digestive system.  

WHAT YOU CAN DO: While reforms to the national Toxic Substances Control Act have stalled, Maryland continues to pass legislation that protects citizens from the most harmful chemicals. Banning BPA from thermal paper receipts and replacing with a safer alternative is a significant way to protect public health and protect Marylanders from toxic chemical exposure. We appreciate the call for safer alternatives, and hope the Committee will continue to monitor and address toxic chemicals in thermal paper of all kinds. Some receipt manufacturers have moved away from BPA but are using a chemical called BPS, which has similar chemical makeup as BPA. Evidence suggests that BPS and other bisphenols may be equally or more toxic than BPA.

SB 175 continues the work of protecting Maryland’s citizens from BPA and assures that Maryland remains a national leader in the goal of chemical policy reform. 

We urge your support of SB 175.

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