High level of chemical bisphenol A (BPA), an endocrine- disrupting harmful chemical, has been found in cash receipts in the country that is already putting an alarming threat towards lives and environment.
However, none out of 1350 people surveyed in a study knows about the harmful impact of BPA in cash receipts in Bangladesh while touching cash receipts can significantly increase our body's uptake of a potentially dangerous chemical.
Environment and Social Development Organization (ESDO) read those in its study that was disclosed on Thursday at a virtual event titled ‘BPA in Receipt: Toxin in Finger’.
Laboratory tests in the study conducted showed that all of the collected cash receipts indicated the presence of BPA in quantities ranging from 0.08% - 3.7% by weight which is much higher that EU permissible limit of rate 0.02% by weight.
BPA is broadly used as a plasticizer that is bound in polymers to make plastic bottles and food can liners and on thermal imaging paper used to print credit-card and cash register receipts, point-of-sale receipts, ATM receipts, prescription labels, airline tickets and other machine-generated receipts, according to the ESDO key presentation.
Director General of Department of Environment Md. Ashraf Uddin addressed the event as the chief guest.
Expressing his grave concern over the issue, he said “The threat arising from BPA in receipts should not be overlooked; he also focuses on public awareness and the steps involved in regulation.”
ESDO research team leader Dr. Shahriar Hossain said, thermal paper is usually used in cash register receipts in restaurants, food stores doing BPA contamination of food from fingers and hands.
“BPA from thermal paper can be absorbed through the blood faster. At the levels measured in this study, many illnesses like diabetes and disorders like obesity can increase," he added.
The study revealed that BPA from receipts seeps into the skin, dramatically increasing the amount of BPA in the human body. And the hand disinfectant increased the absorption rate.
Additionally, commonly used skin care products also appear to increase the rate of absorption of BPA, the researchers said.
The ESDO research team assessed the situation through a baseline survey carried out from February 2019 to January 2020 on a total 1350 people (Consumer and retailers) to assess public perception on Bisphenol-A (BPA) in thermal papers used in popular outlets in Bangladesh.
Besides, cash receipts have been collected from local shops (Fast food, super shop, restaurants, pharmacy, ATM etc.) and ATM booths of the surveyed areas by the ESDO research team.
Keya Khan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change stated that as children and pregnant women are vulnerable to BPA, the health and environmental hazards need to be assessed and regulated.
Md Enamul Haque, additional secretary, Health Service Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare called everyone to take necessary steps to look for environmentally friendly options immediately.
ESDO Executive Director Siddika Sultana urged for a proper waste segregation and management for BPA coated receipts to prevent BPA contamination to our drinking water and food.