Bisphenol A (BPA) has seemingly taken over. BPA has been found in canned food products. It’s lurking in dental fillings and baby dishes and toys. BPA has even been found in receipts. And now, even the simple act of purchasing BPA-free products has become cause for concern, because that paper money you’re using to buy said BPA-free products, well, that may contain BPA too. As a new study reports, paper currency from countries all around the world, including the United States, is the most recent culprit of BPA exposure.

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The study, published in Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T) shows that paper currency collected from several different countries, including the United States, Canada, Czech Republic, Russia, Turkey, Australia, Brazil, Egypt, South Africa, China, India, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates contain varying levels of BPA. In some cases, paper money contained almost no BPA, but in other cases BPA levels were extremely high (almost 83 µg/g). Older bills from some countries (including the United States) were a particular problem. Older money, when tested, contained significantly and constantly higher levels of BPA than newer bills. According to the research, it’s not entirely clear how BPA is contaminating paper currency, but researchers guess that money may be tainted when it rubs against paper receipts kept in the same wallet. Or it could be that inks and recycled paper already containing BPA were used to manufacture the cash. Another theory is that paper money may be accumulating BPA after years of  circulation, and thus, years of exposure to other BPA tainted products.

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Since BPA is easily absorbed through the skin, overly man-handled cash is possibly more problematic than some other products containing BPA. Because BPA has been linked to breastfeeding problems, autism, low birth-weights and more health issues, you’d be wise to avoid it when possible. Yet, it’s unlikely that cash is going away anytime soon, so beyond the difficult prospect of avoiding paper money altogether, or freaking out and moving to a cave, you can avoid BPA exposure in other ways.

  • If your job requires money handling, be sure to wash your hands often, especially before you prepare or eat food.
  • Keep money in one pocket of your wallet and paper receipts in another.
  • If your kids want to play with money, consider wooden play money over real paper money.

+ High levels of bisphenol-A in paper currencies from several countries, and implications for dermal exposure

+ Source: Environmental Health News

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