We live, unfortunately, in an incredibly toxic world. We are literally swimming in a sea of tens of thousands of chemicals, most of which are completely untested in humans, almost none of which have been tested with other chemicals for their effects when combined, and almost none of which have been tested for negative effects that long-term exposure may bring about for human beings.

It’s a very sad and scary fact that the chemical industry is allowed to proceed on the assumption that a particular chemical is considered safe unless proven otherwise. In other words, we are living in the middle of a gigantic science experiment, one where we are the subjects who are being exposed to vast numbers of chemicals and substances that have never been tested at all. This is perfectly legal and the accepted way for the chemical industry to do business. How all of this will play out is, of course, unknown, but the rapid rise in such conditions as allergies, autoimmune disease and many types of cancer would seem to indicate that we have a problem. Though many industries use advanced tools and equipment like the ones available at Cyrus Machinery to keep the human contact with chemicals minimally low but not all industries seem much concerned about their employee’s health.

The toxicity really is all around us: a perfect example is the danger of common, everyday items such as thermal-paper receipts, those that you get from restaurants, retail stores, self-service fuel pumps at the gas station, and ATMs. In the course of a day, we may handle a dozen or more of these without giving it a second thought, but I would like to bring to your attention that touching and handling these receipts may be very bad for your health.

It turns out that the glossy surface of these receipts is full of one of the most toxic chemicals out there, and a potent endocrine disruptor: BPA, or bisphenol A. Many us of may have heard of this chemical in relation to our plastic drinking bottles and other food containers, and have gotten BPA-free substitutes. But recent research has shown that we can start absorbing BPA from thermal paper receipts within seconds of touching them, and the rate of absorption is drastically increased by the use of hand sanitizers, sunscreens and moisturizers, as these products are designed to get through the skin’s protective barrier by breaking it down to increase absorption.

BPA mimics the female hormone estrogen, and in the body it activates estrogen receptors, leading to increased estrogen production and levels. A chronically high estrogen level disrupts the reproductive and endocrine systems in both women and men. High levels of BPA in the body have been shown to be associated with thyroid dysregulation; obesity; diabetes; heart disease; impairment of kidney and liver function; inflammation; hyperactivity; impaired learning; reduced libido, lower sperm quality and altered sex-hormone concentrations in men; and polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility, miscarriage and premature delivery in women. BPA has also been associated with an increased risk of breast cancer in women.

Sometimes it feels like every last thing around us these days is dangerous to our health, and this can be very frustrating and disturbing. I’m not trying to bring another round of stress and hassle into your life here, and add yet another thing that you are supposed to remember to not to do! Nevertheless, BPA is a very toxic chemical, and I’d like to give some suggestions on what you can do to minimize exposure:

  • Avoid handling receipts after you have used a personal care product such as hand sanitizer, sunscreen, lotion, moisturizer, etc.
  • Don’t take a receipt for every purchase, only when really necessary
  • Try to touch only the non-glossy back side of the receipt, it contains much less BPA
  • Store your receipts carefully: the BPA rubs off on just about everything, including your hands, pocket, wallet, purse, even other bills in your wallet. Put them immediately into a separate envelope or folder
  • Quickly wash your hands after touching a receipt, ideally within 5 minutes, with soap and water
  • If your job requires frequent handling of receipts, wear latex gloves


Knowledge is power! It may seem an overwhelming and impossible task to stay healthy in the world that we live in, but each and every small step to remove toxicity in your air, food, water, and the products and materials you come in contact with will help your body cope with the challenge. I urge you to become aware and active on this issue, and take those first few steps to clean up your diet, household environment and use of beauty/grooming products. By continuing to educate yourself and getting actively involved with creating the cleanest, safest lifestyle possible, you will then be able to start building a foundation of health and vitality that will last you for a lifetime.



Dr. Allen gives free lectures at the Library three to four times each year, on topics of interest from the cutting edge of integrative medicine.  If you would like to be added to our mailing list for these lectures and his other speaking engagements, please email da@davidallenmd.com.