Many consumer-facing businesses have learned to identify high-risk Prop 65 targets: soft, flexible plastics; faux and colored leathers; and any kind of brass or metal that may contain lead or other heavy metals. But businesses need to take action to avoid Prop 65 liability based on a new culprit: bisphenol-A (BPA) that may be lurking in your cash register receipts and other thermal papers.

Effective May 11, 2016, OEHHA added BPA to the list of Proposition 65 chemicals known to the State of California to cause reproductive harm. BPA commonly exists in certain plastics and as a liner for canned foods. But many do not realize that thermal paper (commonly used in printing machines such as cash registers, credit card machines, ATMs, and automated ticket printers due to the fact that it does not require ink stock) is also likely to contain BPA – and businesses that fail to phase out the use of BPA-containing thermal paper before May 11th run the risk of receiving a Proposition 65 Notice of Violation from the Prop 65 plaintiffs’ bar.

There are alternatives available for those who act quickly to get them into place. BPA is not the only possible acid that can be used in thermal paper. Substitute materials include sulfonyl ureas or substituted salicylic acids, such as zinc di-tert-butylsalicylate. Companies should also consider possible alternatives such as placing a Proposition 65 warning label on machines that utilize thermal paper or switching to email receipts.

Meredith Jones-McKeown a partner at Sheppard Mullin defends companies against Prop 65 actions based on dozens of chemicals against all the major Prop 65 plaintiffs’ firms. Chris Mackay, Senior Associate Toxicologist at AMEC Foster Wheeler’s Irvine office, helps companies analyze whether exposures above the Prop 65 Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL) or No Significant Risk Level (NSRL) have occurred.

Chris Mackay