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5 July 2016

Cashiers and printing workers exposed to worrying concentrations of BPA

High concentrations of bisphenol A (BPA) were found in urine samples from cashier staff and manual workers in printing companies compared with the general population. This is the main finding of a French study carried out among workers from 10 companies operating in the services and leisure sectors, and in a printing company.

The researchers analysed BPA rates in urine samples from 90 cashiers working in 10 companies in the retail and leisure sectors, including DIY stores, garden centres and leisure parks. These samples were compared with those of 44 colleagues who do not handle sales slips.

‘Employees in the Exposed group excrete significantly more total BPA than the employees from the Control group’, point out the researchers.

With regard to the printing house workers, their urine samples showed BPA levels ten times higher than those of the cashiers. Besides dermal exposure, manual workers at the printing plant are also exposed to the harmful chemical by the respiratory route, as a result of dust accumulation at their workplace.

BPA has been used for more than fifty years in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. This chemical can be found in sales and credit cards slips and in self-adhesive labels.  It is also widely used as a coating in metal food cans and in screw caps.

Experimental data suggest that BPA may pose a risk to human health because of its endocrine disruptor-like effects, which might occur at very low doses. Exposure to BPA would increase the risk of breast cancer, obesity, diabetes and neurological and cardiovascular disorders. It could also affect the reproductive system.

The substitution of BPA with bisphenol S is becoming increasingly widespread. Toxicological data in relation to BPS are few. However, some studies show toxicological similarities between the two bisphenols.

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