How much better is "BPA Free" ?

Tiger Claw Supplies is a leader in helping all of us make more informed choices. We are striving to change the thermal paper industry to be more socially and environmentally conscious.

*New report link via Global News in 2019*

There is no reason for Bisphenol-A to be in thermal paper other than it is cheap to produce. People are still under the impression that the paper they are using called "BPA FREE" is a healthy choice. BPA FREE paper is a "loop hole" to make the paper sound more "eco friendly" and "healthier"

"BPA FREE" thermal paper contains a highly toxic variant called Bisphenol-S used as the colouring agent.(See diagram below of molecule chart)

These chemicals are incredibly toxic, and have been proven to have harmful effects. Tiger Claw Supplies hopes that the knowledge of what is going on in our industry sheds light to the changes that need to be made. We hope that with the changes we are trying to accomplish, every end user will be able to make the right choices for their employees and their own health. Phenol Free thermal paper is the only paper that should be used today, sadly this is not yet the "norm" in our industry. The prices for Phenol Free paper are higher at this time, only through a stronger demand for this paper can we successfully bring the costs down.

Please read this extensive report on both BPA and BPS. Many other European and other nations are far ahead of North America in calling for the ban of these substances in everyday use. While the studies on BPS are relatively new, if there is no call by you the consumer,  for suppliers and manufacturers to remove these chemicals they will simply continue to use them for better profits.



Fact Sheet on Bisphenol S (BPS) Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA)

Compiled by Dr C Albrecht , Head of Research and Magdalene Seguin, Clinical


What is Bisphenol S?


  • Bisphenol S  (4,4’-dihidroxydiphenyl  sulphone),  abbreviated  BPS,  is  an artificial, industrial, man-made chemical, belonging to a family of molecules known as bisphenols which consist of two hydroxyphenyl functionalities at opposite ends of the molecule.1 There are at least 16 different bisphenols (2) but BPA and BPS are best known because they are endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), which may interfere with the normal activity of hormones such as estrogen, in the body thus leading to adverse health effects.(3)

How different are BPA and BPS chemically?

There is very little structural difference between BPA and BPS as shown below. 1

BPA                                                           BPS




Arrow points to a carbon atom        Arrow points to a sulphur atom attached to attached to two methyl groups.                            attached to oxygen atoms.


What is the relevance of BPS?

  • The relevance of BPS is that it is increasingly being used as a replacement for

BPA, especially as a colour developer in thermal receipt paper.(5,6,7,8)

What is the problem with BPA?

  • There is growing evidence that BPA may be harmful to human health as outlined below: (9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)
  • Increased risk of breast carcinoma (15)
  • Increased risk of prostate carcinoma (16)
  • Increased risk of obesity(17)
  • Increased risk of diabetes mellitus type 2 (18)
  • Increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (18)
  • Increased risk of autoimmune diseases (19)
  • Increased risk of asthma (20)
  • Exposure associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) (21)
  • Exposure associated with Attention deficit Hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) (21)
  • Adverse effects of prenatal exposure for the brain (22)
  • Adverse effects of prenatal exposure for behavior (23)
  • Adverse effects for prenatal exposure on immune function (24)
  • Association with male sexual dysfunction (25)
  • BPA may cause epigenetic effects (26)
  • Environmental studies have shown that BPA has contaminated the planet except for the North Pole. (27)

The reaction against BPA


  • In 1970 there were only two peer-reviewed publications on BPA while in 2011 there were 327. Overall, 3547 studies on BPA have now been published in Pubmed. This remarkable growth in BPA publications over 40 years shows that the effect of this chemical on the environment and human health is of great and growing concern.


  • This concern has translated into the international banning of the importation, manufacture and selling of BPA-containing polycarbonate baby bottles in all the major countries of the world, including South Africa.(28, 29,)


  • While the polycarbonate baby bottle was only a minor source of BPA, it was the first to be banned because of concern for babies who lack BPA- metabolising enzymes during the first years of life and who are more susceptible for epigenetic changes during early postnatal exposure to BPA. Over and above this concern about long term health of the babies exposed to.

BPA was the growing importance of the Precautionary Principle (30)  which

encapsulates the concept of being “rather safe than sorry”, i.e. that exposure to a potentially dangerous factor, such as BPA, should be terminated, before all the facts are known, if there is a reasonable case to be made for harm.


  • On  the   11th    April   2013,   France’s   Ministry   for   Ecology,   Sustainable Development and Energy requested the country’s Agency for food, health and occupational health and safety (Anses) to prepare a proposal to restrict the use of BPA in thermal receipt paper at EU level.(31,32.)



  • Consumers worldwide have become aware of the reported dangers of BPA and do not wish to become contaminated with this chemical in any way, including the handling of thermal invoice paper. (33,34, 35)



  • BPS has been suggested as a  substitute for  BPA. For example, Japan phased  out  BPA  in  thermal  receipt  papers  in  2001 36,  and  a  major manufacturer of thermal receipt papers in the USA reported replacement of BPA with BPS (3,5,.37) Consequently businesses worldwide have sought alternatives for BPA and have chosen thermal paper containing BPS and no BPA. Some of these businesses claim that they are now “BPA-free” and that the problem has been solved.However, bisphenol S has been shown to have similar estrogenic activity to bisphenol A and so its main advantage in these applications is merely that it escapes the legal prohibition on bisphenol A and allows products containing bisphenol S to be labelled "BPA free"(38.)

Characteristics of BPS:

  • BPS is an endocrine disruptor molecule as is the case with BPA.(39,40,41,42_
  • When added  to  GH3/B6/F10  rat  pituitary  cells  in  tissue  culture  BPS phosphoactivated the ERK extracellular signal-regulated kinase within 2.5 min.41
  • This  hormone   (estrogen)-like   effect   was   detected   at   extremely   low concentrations of BPS (10-15 M). (To get an idea how low this is, in order to make a 10-15 M  solution of BPS you would dissolve 1 ug (one millionth of a gram) of BPS in an Olympic swimming pool with a volume of 2.5 million liters).(41)
  • BPS induced cell proliferation similar to estrogen.(41)
  • The authors  of  this  work  concluded  –“BPS,  once  considered  a  safe substitute for BPA, disrupts membrane–initiated E2-induced cell signalling, leading to altered cell proliferation, cell death, and prolactin release.” (41)
  • BPS was detected in 97% of urine samples from residents of Albany, NY, in substantial amounts (0.299 ng/ml).(42)
  • BPS has  increased  stability  against  high  temperatures  and  increased resistance to sunlight compared to BPA (37.)
  • BPS does not break down readily in seawater as is the case with BPA. This raises the concern that BPS could accumulate in the environment.(43)
  • Paper coated with BPS may contain up to 40% more chemical than is the case with BPA because BPS is a weaker developer than BPA.(44)
  • In Albany, NY, the median amount of BPS in a gram of thermal invoice paper was 7.44 mg/g. (43)
  • BPS in different thermal invoices ranged from 0.0000138 to 22.0 mg/g (GM:

0.181 mg/g;). This indicates a lack of control on the amount of BPS allowed in a gram of thermal paper.(43)

  • The estimated  daily  intake  of  BPS  from  thermal  invoices  by  average consumers is a median of 291 ug/day.(43)
  • The estimated  daily  intake  of  BPS  from  thermal  invoices  by  those  with occupational exposure is 21804 ug/day, i.e. 75-times more than average consumer.(43)


  • BPS, like BPA behaves like an endocrine disruptor compound (EDC) at very low concentrations and competes with estrogen.
  • Although BPS has  not  been  studied as  well  as  BPA  it  is  a  reasonable assumption based on the almost identical chemical structures that BPS will show many of the adverse health effects found with BPA
  • More BPS than BPA is needed in thermal receipt paper for adequate colour development and it can be expected that BPS contamination of humans will be similar if not more than with BPA-containing receipt papers.
  • Occupational handlers of thermal receipt paper can have a  much higher exposure to BPS and deserve special attention from management to reduce exposure.
  • BPS is more heat and light stable than BPA and is not found to break down in sea water. This suggests a high pollution potential for BPS as it is used more and more.

The way forward

  • It is clear from this brief analysis that BPS is not the answer to the BPA problem.
  • Thermal till slips are a major advance but the use of BPS and BPA as colour developers in the slips are stumbling blocks because they are endocrine disruptor molecules which have been linked to many adverse health effects including prostate and breast. cancer.
  • What is needed is a real BPA alternative which is not a hormone disruptor and which is not readily absorbed into the human body(45.)
  • This will be no easy task because 19 chemical alternatives have been tested and no clear winner was found.
  • Until such a solution is found it is necessary to handle thermal invoice paper with care and to wash hands after doing so.
  • Prof Frederick    vom  Saal,  University  of  Missouri-Columbia’s  Endocrine Disruptors Group is quoted as saying - “The immediate consequence of touching thermal paper coated with free BPA or BPS is that you will spread the chemical onto everything you touch until you wash your hands” (39)
  • Thermal invoices should not be kept too long in purses and wallets because the BPS contaminates currency notes.(44)
  • Those handling thermal invoices occupationally such as till-operators need to clean their hands on site often and be particularly careful when pregnant because hormone disrupters are thought to  be  particularly active  on  the unborn fetus.(47)
  • Safety aspects of BPS need to be investigated comprehensively especially in terms of adverse health effects after chronic exposure. (48)



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  1. 5. Applet Nation’s Largest Maker of Thermal Receipt Paper Does Not Use BPA.



  1. 6. Suffolk County (NY) Legislature. Introductory Resolution 2062. Resolution
  2. 1091. Adopting Local Law 8-2012, A Local Law to Reduce Exposure to Bisphenol A in Suffolk County (“The Safer Sales Slip Act”). Steven Stern, Sponsor. Adopted 4 Dec 2012, approved 3 Jan 2013. Available:[accessed 20 Feb 2013].


  1. 7. Legislator Steve Stern’s “Safer Sales Slip” Act Passes Legislature [press release]. Huntington, NY:Suffolk County Legislature (5  Dec  2012).  Stern  S Available:[acces sed 20 Feb 2013].


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November 8, 2012 Meeting of Scientific Guidance Panel (SGP)



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Vogel SA, Am J Public Health, 2009, 99(3), S559-S566.


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118, 2010,1055−1070.


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  1. 13. Critical evaluation of key evidence on the human health hazards of exposure to bisphenol A, Hengstler, G., Foth, H.,    Gebel, T.,     Kramer, P. J.Lilienblum,W.,  Schweinfurth, H.,  W., Wollin, K. M., Gundert-Remy, U., Crit. Rev. Toxicol. 41 (4) 2011, 263−291.


  1. 14. Weight-of – evidence evaluation of reproductive and developmental effects of low doses of bisphenol A. Goodman, J. ; Witorsch, R. J.; McConnell, E. E.; Sipes, I. G.; Slayton, T. M.; Yu, C. J.; Franz, A. M.; Rhomberg, L. R.Crit. Rev. Toxicol. 39, 2009, 1−75.




  1. 15. Does cancer start in the womb? Altered mammary gland development and predisposition to breast cancer due to in utero exposure to endocrine disrupters. Soto AM, Brisken C, Schaeberle C and Sonnenschein C, J Mammary Gland Biol Neoplasia, 2013, 18(2), 199-208.


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Cancer, 2008, 15(3), 649-656.


  1. 17. The estrogenic endocrine disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and obesity, Vom Saal FS, Nagel SC, COE BL, Angle BM, Taylor JA, Mol Cell Endocrinol, 2012, 354, 74-84.


  1. 18. Association of urinary bisphenol A concentration with medical disorders and laboratory abnormalities in adults, Lang IA, Galloway TS, Scarlett A, Henley WE, Depledge M, Wallace RB, Melzer D, JAMA, 2008, 300(11), 1303-1310.




  1. 19. Endocrine disruptors (environmental estrogens) enhance autoantibody production by B1 cells, Yurino H, Ishikawa S, Sato T, Akadegawa K, Ito T, Ueha S, Inadera H, Matsushima K K, Toxicol Sci, 2004, 81(1), 139-147.


  1. 20. Association of urinary bisphenol A concentration with allergic asthma: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006, Vaidya SV and Kulkarni H, J Asthma, 2012, 49(8), 800 – 806.


  1. 21. Does perinatal exposure to endocrine disruptors induce autism spectrum and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders? Review., De Cock M, Maas YG, van de Bor, M, Acta Paediatr, 2012, 101(8), 811-818.


  1. 22. Effects of adult exposure to bisphenol a on genes involved in the physiopathology of rat prefrontal cortex, Castro B, Sanchez P, Torres JM, Ortega E, PLoS One, 2013, Sep 16, PMID = 24066056


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  1. 24. Developmental exposure to bisphenol A modulates innate but not adaptive immune responses to influenza A virus infection, Roy A, Bauer SM, Lawrence BP, PLoS One, 2012, PMID 22675563.


  1. 25. Relationship between urine bisphenol-A level and declining male sexual function, Li DK, Zhou Z, Miao M, He Y, Qing D, Wu T, Wang J, Weng X, Ferber J, Herrington LJ, Zhu Q, Gao E, Yuan W, J Androl, 2010, PMID 20467048.


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Kundakovic M, Champagne FA, Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Aug, 25(6):1084-93.


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Pollut, 2010, PMID 20678833.


  1. 28. South Africa bans BPA in baby bottles.



  1. 29. FDA bans BPA in baby bottles.



  1. 30. The Precautionary Principle.


  1. 31. French ecology ministry wants EU ban on BPA in receipt pape



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  1. 34. Consumers applaud FDA BPA ba formula-packaging/


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37 "Estrogenic activity of alkylphenols, bisphenol S, and their chlorinated derivatives using a GFP expression system".  Kuruto-Niwa, R.; Nozawa, R.; Miyakoshi, T.; Shiozawa, T.; Terao, Y. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology

19 (1) ,(2005), 121–130.


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Konkel, Environmental Health Perspectives, 121, No.3, March 2013, A76.


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  1. 42. Bisphenol S in urine from the United States and seven Asian countries: occurance and human exposures , Liao C, Liu F, Alomirah H, Loi VD, Mohd MA, Moon HB, Nakata H, Kannan K, Environ Sci Technol, 2012, 46, 6860-6866.




  1. 43. Biodegradation of Bisphenol A, Bisphenol F and Bisphenol S in seawater, Erica Danzl, Kazunari Sei, Satoshi Soda, Michihido Ike and Masanori Fujita, Int. Environ. Res. Public Health, 6, 2009, 1472-1484.


  1. 44. Bisphenol S, a new bisphenol analogue, in paper products and currency bills and its association with Bisphenol A residues, Chunyang Liao, Fang Liu, and Kurunthachalam Kannan, Environ. S Technol. 46, 2012,6515−6522.


  1. 45. ANSES –French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, Potential alternatives for BPA


  1. 46. EP BPA Alternatives In Thermal Receipt Paper Partnership[


  1. 47. BPA exposure during pregnancy


Impact of early-life bisphenol A exposure on behaviour and executive function in children, Braun JM, Kalkbrenner AE, Calafat AM, Yolton K, Ye X, Dietriech KN, Lanphear BP, Pediatrics, 2011, 128, 873-882. be-concerned/


  1. 48. ANSES –French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety Assessment of the hazards of other bisphenol-group compounds, compounds