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You find them in your pocket, crumpled up under the seat of your car, some restaurants even use them to wrap their food in. Receipts are one of those things that you rarely notice or care about, but that seem to be everywhere. And for the most part, save the danger of littering, they really are no big deal. However, over exposure to receipt paper affects male fertility more than you would expect.
What do receipts do to male fertility?
The thermal paper that receipts are printed on contains high amounts of BPA. BPA is a chemical that’s used to coat thermal paper- making the paper heat-resistant so that it can withstand the process of thermal printing. While BPA does great things for paper and plastic- making it resistant to heat and electricity- it does some pretty crappy things to your hormonal system.
BPA is what’s known as an endocrine disruptor. Essentially, BPA mimics estrogen, binding to estrogen receptors and causing your body to think it has more estrogen. This leads to a hormonal imbalance, causing testosterone production to drop off.
Testosterone is responsible for your manly attributes-the low voice, hairy chest, big muscles. It’s also crucial for your reproductive system- especially your sperm quality. When your testosterone production is impacted, your body’s sperm production grinds to a halt. This may be why a recent study found that men with high traces of BPA in their urine were found to have 23% lower sperm concentration, 13% decline in morphology, 7.5% decrease in sperm motility and a 10% increase in sperm damage.
How much exposure is too much?
This doesn’t mean that you should panic when you get handed a receipt. The occasional receipt won’t torch your testosterone, and honestly, it probably won’t don’t anything to you. The real issue is when you consistently handle a large amount of receipts printed on thermal paper. We’re talking hours of handling receipts. One study found that after two hours of constantly handling receipts, BPA levels were three times higher, four hours post-exposure and climbed to five times higher, eight hours post-exposure. So while the average Joe isn’t overexposed to receipts, guys in retail jobs or other positions where receipts are continuously handled should take precautions against BPA exposure.
What should I do?
Go green. A lot of stores now offer an emailed receipt. This is great option for avoiding the clutter of receipts, and protecting your fertility. If you’re consistently dealing with receipts at work, you may want to try using protective gloves when handling them.
Another thing to avoid? Touching receipts after applying anything that could increase absorption. This includes lotion and hand-sanitizers, which contain ingredients that make the product more skin-absorbent. If you apply these before touching a receipt, these ingredients can also help your skin absorb BPA. Greasy food can make the transport of BPA to your skin easier, so be careful eating those fries while grabbing a receipt.