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15 July 2013

Bisphenol A: study reports harm to checkout operators’ unborn babies

The French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) released in April the results of a risk assessment of bisphenol A for the health of pregnant workers and their unborn children.

The animal study was specifically designed to investigate the risks from handling thermal paper till receipts which contain bisphenol A.

The study’s authors identified four types of harm to the unborn child, affecting the mammary gland (increased cancer risk), brain (learning difficulties), the female reproductive system (ovarian cysts and menstrual cycle disruption) and metabolism (obesity, cholesterol).

The study considers how this risk might be prevented, but comes to no firm conclusions: wearing gloves is dismissed because bisphenol A could penetrate textile and even plastic gloves. The researchers also ruled out replacing bisphenol A with bisphenol S which is also thought to disrupt the hormone system.

Approximately 186 000 supermarket workers could be exposed to bisphenol A in France.

The National Institute for Research and Safety (INRS) has plans for an epidemiological study of a population of checkout workers.

Bisphenol A has been used in industry for half a century. It has hit the headlines in recent years over its use in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastic baby bottles. The discovery of its toxicity to infants led to the sale of such bottles being banned the EU in early 2011.

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