Saturday, 6 November 2010

pharmacokinetics or better living through chemistry

Before repairing to bashing the industrial standards of Asian maunfacturers for toothpaste with high lead-content, and eliding over our own thiftiness for going with the lowest bidder in the first place, the Western world makes and has made for decades quite enough poisonous products all on its own.  One piece that rather made my skin crawl and left me shuddering for the checkout girl where H and I went shopping just a little bit earlier concerned studies showing that Bisphenol A leeches from thermal-receipt paper through the skin and into the body just from casual handling.  It's nearly as devastating as the formaldehyde that leaks out of new furniture and carpeting.

Though Bisphenol A (BPA) has been synthesized since the 1930s, more familar as the acetone in finger-nail polish remover and paint-thinner--what a compliment to one's home chemistry set--it has never been proven safe, and the substance, ubiquitous and seemingly innocent, sparks the occasional uproar, like not practicing microwave cookery in microwave-safe plastic containers, PVC piping, and because it mimicks estrogen and acts as a replacement for the hormone, it has been attributed to a wide range of disorders that could  seem to have no other explanation, like frequency of breast cancer, premature birth, liver disfunction and even obseity and attention deficiency.  Even places, like the European Union and Canada, that have enacted restrictions against environmental BPA probably are not looking to their cash registers yet.  In Germany, one's receipts are forced on one or left to gather as trash at the end of the shopping conveyor belt, but there was a trend that's gone away not to handle money, at least not to put change in the customer's hand but offer it up on such a tray.  Surely the thermal printer and point-of-sale cartels could be convinced to employ safer means.  Next time, everyone should refuse a printed receipt, when it's not needed, and tell the cashier exactly why.