There are 3.1 million workers in the U.S. who are cashiers within a large and growing service economy. These workers handle thermal receipt tape that is coated with a developing agent;Bisphenol A is the coating agent of choice and is applied to 40-80 percent of tapes. There are serious concerns over the toxicity of BPA and the hazard that it may pose to worker health especially considering the vulnerability of women of reproductive age who dominate this employment sector. Despite significant potential for BPA exposure considering the size of the population and nature of exposure, little to no quantitative data is available even though it is fundamental to evaluating the health threat. To address this critical gap, we have developed a research plan around a strategic hypothesis: when cashiers handle BPA-coated cash register receipts, the BPA is transferred to and absorbed through the skin leading to elevated internal exposures. This hypothesis will be tested based on experimental observations from two related specific aims.
Aim 1 : Conduct a controlled human exposure experiment (4 subjects) to provide a detailed mass-balance and toxicokinetic evaluation of the dermal absorption of BPA from coated cash register receipts, metabolism, distribution, and elimination in urine. This analysis will be based on measurements of BPA loss from receipts after prescribed hand contact and repeated measures of BPA in blood and urine for up to 10 hours post exposure.
Aim 2 : Quantitatively evaluate dermal exposure to BPA among cashiers. Cashiers (n=24) will be recruited through advertisements in local newspapers and existing Ohio State University networks. The presence of BPA on receipt tape will be confirmed and cashier exposure will be evaluated based on the change in urine levels from pre to post shift. The findings from this research will hold great significance for worker health and safety. The already substantial service and retail workforce is growing as the US continues its transition from an industrial to a retail-based economy. Furthermore, this workforce is made up of a large fraction of women who are of reproductive age and therefore particularly vulnerable to the reproductive and endocrine disruptive effects of BPA. A true and accurate evaluation of exposure is a necessary first step to assess risk, address measurement error in epidemiologic studies, and develop effective intervention strategies. Despite the obvious need, our proposed study will provide the first evaluation of the extent of cashier dermal exposure to BPA from cash register receipt tape and associated metabolism and toxicokinetics. As such, this study will address a critical knowledge gap that will inform BPA safety considerations among manufacturers, retailers and their employees, consumers, and policy makers.
The proposed research will have a profound influence on worker health and safety in the U.S. by providing the FIRST quantitative assessment of dermal exposure and associated toxicokinetics among cashiers handling BPA-coated receipt tape. Findings from this study will be fundamental in describing exposure (external and internal) and toxicokinetics that will inform quantitative risk assessment as a basis for informed decisions regarding needed actions for protection.