ENVIRONMENTAL organizations have written to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) calling for the use of thermal paper in receipts to be minimized, claiming that such material contains toxins that interfere with the workings of human hormones.

In a statement on Thursday, EcoWaste Coalition and Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability said they sent a joint letter on July 5 to the DTI, highlighting to Trade Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual and Trade Undersecretary Ruth B. Castelo the “hidden hazards” posed by thermal paper.

“According to the results of a pioneering study by the groups, endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) such as Bisphenol A (BPA) and its chemical cousin Bisphenol S (BPS) have been detected in thermal paper receipts collected from business and government establishments in the country. EDCs are non-natural chemicals or mixtures of chemicals that interfere with the way the body’s hormones work, causing adverse health effects,” they said.

“Laboratory tests… show that 32 of the 53 analyzed samples from the Philippines (60%) had BPA and 13 (25%) had BPS.  The concentration range of BPA for the samples collected from Davao, Makati, Manila, Quezon City and Taguig was 0.92 to 1.86%, way above the European Union’s limit of 0.02%. The concentration range for BPS was 0.61 to 1.12%,” they added.

The two groups said that the study was done as part of the recently-completed eight-country EDC-Free Asia Project led by the Wonjin Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health with support from the Korea Financial Industry Public Interest Foundation.

They said that cashiers, mostly women, who handle thermal paper receipts may have high exposure, which may lead to adverse effects.

“We express our concern about the plight of cashiers who touch and handle thermal paper receipts on a daily basis as this may result in high BPA/BPS exposure and cause negative health outcomes, especially for pregnant or nursing women, and women of childbearing age,” they said.

They called for thermal paper to be phased out and to draft national regulations to that effect.

Asked to comment, Mr. Pascual told BusinessWorld via mobile phone that he has yet to evaluate the two groups’ proposals.

However, Mr. Pascual said that he is pushing for the use of digital receipts in the broader context of digitizing business transactions. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave