LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - After buying something at a store or a restaurant, you get a printed receipt.
It's a way to keep track of your purchases.
In the case of The Mac Guys in La Crosse, that receipt is in email format.
"Some people like the hard copy. It's kinda old school," said The Mac Guys Manager Andrew LeCleir. "But, the nice thing with the email receipt is you have a copy then can do with whatever you want."
LeCleir said his store's digital effort is for customer convenience and waste reduction.
"Any time you're consuming more tangible materials, that affects everything around you," he said.
That digital effort is exactly what the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency wants.
Most receipts are made from thermal paper that has a chemical in it known as BPA.
While BPA's impact on humans is still being studied, exposure has been linked to obesity, diabetes and reproductive problems.
"(With) these thermal papers, the chemical is used as a developer. "So, it's essentially a coding on the paper and when that paper gets heated, that's what makes the image appear," said Madalyn Cioci, waste prevention specialist for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Recent research shows BPA can be absorbed by skin when handling receipts.
Without a known safe paper alternative, the MPCA is working encourage businesses to make a digital change; like LeCleir at The Mac Guys.
Though the business still offers printed receipts, the majority remain out of a customer's hands.
BPA is on the Minnesota Department of Health's list of priority chemicals.
Preliminary research suggests people who handle receipts for their job, like retail workers, have higher BPA levels in their body. These studies are ongoing.
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