Pritzker in Manteno (copy)

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker spoke at the Illinois Veterans Home at Manteno in January.

Environmental advocates are considering it a win after Illinois passed a bill last month to ban a chemical that often is found in receipts and considered harmful.

According to House Bill 2076, “the Environmental Protection Act prohibits the manufacture, distribution or use of paper containing Bisphenol A for the making of business or banking records.”

The bill, which awaits the signature of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, also “requires paper manufacturers to, among other things, replace Bisphenol A with an alternative chemical,” it states.

Zach Koutsky, legislative and political director at Local 881 UFCW, said BPA is a hormone-disrupting chemical that can especially affect employees who often handle receipts.

“Workers in an average shift touch hundreds of these while they’re working in checkout, absorbing large amounts, well more than what you would find typically in food packaging or sippy cups,” Koutsky said. “They’re absorbing it through their skin and that’s staying in their bodies, not through their digestive system. The outcome of that can be very detrimental to their health.”

Koutsky said studies have shown that women who work in retail are four to five times more likely to get breast cancer and five times more likely to contract ovarian cancer, and men are four times more likely to contract prostate cancer.

“Clearly in retail situations, they’re coming into contact with something that is making them ill,” Koutsky said.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency supported the ban. In a statement, it said “no scientific consensus exists on the human health threat posed by BPA in thermal paper. Federal studies continue and more might be released this fall,” WGN reported.

BPA also is found in common plastic products such as bottles, food storage containers and plates. Some research on animals has suggested it could have a debilitating effect on the brain, behavior and endocrine system of fetuses infants and children, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“Human health effects from BPA at low environmental exposures are unknown,” according to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “BPA has been shown to affect the reproductive systems of laboratory animals. More research is needed to understand the human health effects of exposure to BPA.”

BPA has been banned from receipts in other parts of the world, such as Canada and Europe, Koutsky said. In the U.S., Koutsky said Connecticut has banned BPA.

“The FDA made the recommendation a couple years ago to ban BPA in baby bottles, sippy cups, breast milk bottles because there is a concern about what that it could be leaching into a child who would be consuming it,” Koutsky said.

Koutsky said he hopes that more states will follow Illinois’ example and ban BPA from receipts.

“It’s a great win for the environment, certainly for workers,” Koutsky said. “It puts Illinois as the second state in America to ban it. That was done in negotiation and partnership with the industry.”

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