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September 12, 2011

BPA Found in Paper Currencies Worldwide

Paper currencies have been used for centuries around the world for purchasing foods, exchanging goods or services, and many other things in our daily lives. Most people usually carry some paper bills wherever they go and whatever they do. Even if we are in some countries where plastic money like credit cards are very popular and convenient, cash is still most welcomed to almost everybody. However, the newest study has proved that paper money around the world is actually contaminated with a potentially toxic chemical—Bisphenol A (BPA).


In general, BPA is a chemical that has been used since the 1960s to make lightweight, hard plastics. The original form of BPA is a white solid with a medicinal odor, and BPA is also known as polycarbonate plastics. We are actually surrounded by many things contain BPA. For instance, BPA can usually be found in various plastic products, such as food and beverage packages, plastic tableware, water and baby bottles, reusable cups, compact discs, eyeglass lenses, toys, medical devices, automobile parts, and impact-resistant safety equipment. It is also used in the recycling of thermal paper like receipts, self-adhesive labels, and fax papers.

Human exposures to BPA are widespread, and most of our exposures are through foods, beverages, water, air, and dust. Although the International Program on Chemical Safety in World Health Organization (WHO) cannot prove the direct correlation between BPA and human health effects, many doctors believe that BPA is an endocrine disruptor and it may interfere with the production or activity of hormones in human endocrine system. Furthermore, the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) concerns that human exposures to BPA may have some negative effects on the brain, behavior, and prostate gland for infants and children. It also believes that adult exposures to BPA may affect the reproductive tract, and long-lasting effects may stay in our brains, reproductive systems, and metabolic processes.

Researchers in the U.S. State University of New York analyze 156 pieces of paper currencies from 21 countries for BPA and prove that all these paper money contain BPA at certain concentrations. According to the American Chemical Society, those paper bills from Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines have the lowest levels of BPA, whereas paper currencies from Australia, Brazil, and the Czech Republic have the highest levels. In addition, these researchers examine the transfer of BPA from thermal receipt papers to bills by placing paper money in contact with thermal receipt papers for 24 hours in a wallet. They discover that the concentrations of BPA are significantly increased after 24 hours of contact with thermal receipt papers. Their discovery suggests that thermal receipt paper is an important source of BPA in paper money. These researchers publish the result of their aforementioned study in a recent issue of the Environmental Science & Technology.

Although further researches about BPA are necessary for understanding more about the influence of BPA on human health, researchers recommend people to consult with their health care professionals if their exposures to BPA have any effect on their health.

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