NGOs as well as many other stakeholders in the world of chemicals have since long pointed out that the hormonal disruptor bisphenol A (BPA) is often substituted for similar chemicals that are also harmful.
The drive to replace BPA from receipts and other forms of thermal paper started several years ago due to the well-known health effects of BPA, and have recently been further intensified due to an EU wide ban of BPA in thermal paper from 2020. Receipts are the single largest source of exposure to BPA for humans, which means that even if thermal paper production is only responsible for a small part of the total usage of BPA, it is still a large part of the problem.
A common replacement chemical for BPA is bisphenol S (BPS) – a chemical with a very similar structure and equal intrinsic properties.
According to a recent survey by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) the amount of BPS used as a developer in thermal paper have nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017. The agency finds this worrisome as BPS “is suspected to have many of the same adverse health effects as BPA”. The Commission will use the survey report as it considers whether a proposal to restrict BPS is necessary.
Safer alternatives to bisphenol A in receipts and thermal paper
Safer alternatives to BPA in thermal paper do exist. One such alternative comes from German company Koehler Paper, which operates through its agent Oekobon. Koehler’s alternative is interesting because it is created using a completely different technique compared to traditional thermal paper. No reactive substance is needed, as the paper itself contains small bubbles of ink that bursts and is set free when exposed to the heat of the print head, creating text and figures. In other words, this is a physical reaction, not a chemical reaction.
More information on this alternative can be found here, including contact information: https://marketplace.chemsec.org/Alternative/Alternative-thermal-paper-without-developer-30