Friday, April 30, 2010

BPS = BPA, more or less

Yes, it turns out that most or ALL thermal paper uses SOME form of bisphenol compound as the developer. Sigh...

Here is my rather lengthy correspondence with an Appleton executive about the topic of BPS and its use in Appleton's "BPA-free" thermal paper. I put the correspondence here in its entirety, though I realize this might be a bit dreary, as I wish for both my public stance on this issue and that of the Appleton executive to be "straight from the horse's mouth."

From: David ResSeguie
Sent: Wednesday, April 28, 2010 12:48 PM

To: Ebben, Sara

Subject: Re: Appleton - The Responsible Choice

Dear Sarah,
I would like to report that we have had success in sourcing BPA-free receipt paper through various suppliers. However, a recent letter forwarded to me from an executive of the National Checking Company has caused me some concern. This person, Ben Olk (who signs his letters "President" of National Checking) claims that ALL thermal paper uses either BPA or BPS as its developing agent.
"All thermal paper contains some form of bisphenols (BPA or BPS)," he says.
I would like to know from you if this is a true statement. That is, does all thermal paper contain some bisphenol compound as its color developing agent?
If Appleton uses another method, it would be helpful if you could explain it to me as clearly as possible. I am not, of course, asking that you reveal any trade secrets to me, but a full disclosure of the chemicals used in making your thermal paper would go a long way to assuage concerns that I and other people following this issue may have.
Thanking you in advance for your time and efforts,
I am,
Yours Sincerely,
David Resseguie
From: Hillend, James

Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 9:13 AM

To: David ResSeguie
Cc: Ebben, Sara; Howarth, Doug; Van Den Brandt, Bill

Subject: Appleton - Responsible Choice

Dear David:
Sara Ebben forwarded your request to me.
Appleton uses a variety of chemicals to produce our thermal products, including members of the diphenyl sulfone family. This includes Bisphenol S , but not Bisphenol A, F, or any other letter. While all are bis phenols (meaning that they have 2 phenol groups) they are in many cases very different chemicals. The letter is the chemist's short hand to designate a different chemical functional group. It’s kind of like comparing methanol (wood alcohol - can destroy your optic nerve) to ethanol (stuff we can drink). While they are both alcohols, they behave very differently.

Other items that might help with the discussion on the comparison between BPA and BPS:

1.We are not aware of any regulatory body currently investigating the safety of any chemical in the diphenyl sulfone family.

2. While some in the industry have taken a position that BPS is the equivalent of BPA, what we know is that the FDA and the EPA have named BPA as being a “concern” and some senators have taken steps to introduce legislation banning BPA. No such announcements or actions regarding BPS have occurred.

3. Appleton has been watching the science and safety aspects for all of the chemicals that we use to produce our products.

4.We voluntarily removed BPA from our product formulas several years ago when concern about BPA began to grow

5.We are comfortable today with our choice of chemicals

6.We will continue to monitor the science and are committed to actively managing the safety of all of our products.

We have attached additional information that might be useful as you make purchasing decisions about the performance and safety of POS receipt papers.
Let us know if you have questions or if you require additional information

Jamie Hillend
From: David ResSeguie
Sent: Friday, April 30, 2010 5:19 PM

To: Hillend, James

Cc: Ebben, Sara

Subject: The Science on BPA and BPS

Dear Mr. Hillend,

It is of little concern to me whether "any regulatory body [is] currently investigating" the safety of a particular chemical. Regulatory agencies are notoriously overworked and understaffed, and generally only respond to issues brought to them by businesses, scientists, and consumers.
Of much greater concern to me are scientific studies of estrogenic activity of various phenol compounds which characterize BPS as "[showing] comparable estrogenic activity with BPA."
Other studies listed on NIH sites include one which finds that BPS shows the LEAST tendency to break down in seawater of any of the bishenols tested.
Another study tested the estrogenic activity of a host of bisphenol compounds, and notes in its abstract that "Among the tested BPs, two compounds, i.e., bisphenol-S (bis(4-hydroxydiphenyl)sulfone) and bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)sulfide, have never been reported for their estrogenic activity previously."
What we find depends a great deal on where we look. Me, personally, I am going to start looking for alternatives to using thermal paper in ANY context.
I must also express my disappointment at being misled in my search for safe alternatives to paper coated with BPA. As my business's technology liaison, I feel responsible for ensuring that my employees are not being exposed to unnecessary and unwarranted hazards in the workplace. Furthermore, as many of my cashiers are women of child-bearing age, it is highly distressing to think they might be bioaccumulating toxins which could affect any children they might bear.
Yours Sincerely,
David Resseguie
Subject: RE: The Science on BPA and BPS
Date: April 30, 2010 04:05:09 PM PDT
To: Sundance General Email
Cc: Sara Ebben

Dear David:

We are sorry for any impression that we were trying to mislead you on issues related to BPA and alternatives. This was certainly not our intent.
We too have been watching the science on this subject and have experienced frustration with the lack of agreement on the relative safety of diphenyl sulfone compounds and access to peer reviewed data. We have seen the referenced data below as well as other data that ranges in opinion from its “comparable to BPA” to its shows no activity. The same can be found in regards to bioaccumulation where BPA seems to have a high potential and BPS has little or no level (BPA is not water soluble as described in the Japanese study on degradation). Again, it depends upon the study. There are over 200 peer reviewed studies on BPA, less than 10 studies on BPS (not all peer reviewed).
Appleton too is concerned about the health and safety of our employees and customers. We proactively removed BPA many years ago when the data suggested an issue. We continue to watch this issue and are committed to providing the safest products to market. At this time, we are comfortable with our choice of chemicals. We have also been invited to join the EPA’s design for the Environment program, with the objective to find safer alternatives to BPA.
In the spirit of open collaboration, we have included our internal findings including peer reviewed data.
We respect your conclusion and stand ready to offer assistance on helping you find non thermal alternatives, be it bond and ink, carbonless or non paper.
Please again accept our apologies. If you have any questions or if we can help further, please don’t hesitate to contact me
Regards / Jamie Hillend
James R. Hillend
Executive Director, POS Business
825 E. Wisconsin Ave
P.O. Box 359
Appleton, WI 54912-0359
Telephone: (920) 991-7382
Fax: (920) 991-7023

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