Bisphenol A (BPA) is a high-production-volume chemical with endocrine disrupting properties commonly used as color developer in thermal paper. Concerns about the potential hazards of human BPA exposure have led to the increasing utilization of alternatives such as bisphenol S (BPS) and bisphenol F (BPF). This study was designed to assess: (i) BPA, BPS, and BPF concentrations in 112 thermal paper receipts from Brazil, France, and Spain by liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS); and (ii) hormone-like activities of these receipts using two receptor-specific bioassays, the E-Screen for (anti-)estrogenicity and PALM luciferase assay for (anti-)androgenicity. BPA was present in 95.3% of receipts from Spain, 90.9% of those from Brazil, and 51.1% of those from France at concentrations up to 20.27 mg/g of paper. Only two samples from Brazil, two from Spain, and ten from France had a BPS concentration ranging from 6.46 to 13.29 mg/g; no BPA or BPS was detected in 27.7% of French samples. No BPF was detected in any receipt. Estrogenic activity was observed in all samples from Brazil and Spain and in 74.5% of those from France. Anti-androgenic activity was observed in > 90% of samples from Brazil and Spain and in 53.2% of those from France. Only 25.5% of French samples were negative for both estrogenic and anti-androgenic activity. Estrogenic and anti-androgenic activities per gram of paper were up to 1.411 µM estradiol (E2) equivalent units (E2eq) and up to 359.5 mM procymidone equivalent units (Proceq), respectively. BPA but not BPS concentrations were positively correlated with both estrogenic and anti-androgenic activities. BPA still dominates the thermal paper market in Brazil and Spain, and BPS appears to be one of the main alternatives in France. There is an urgent need to evaluate the safety of alternatives proposed to replace BPA as developer in thermal printing. The large proportion of samples with hormonal activity calls for the adoption of preventive measures.
Keywords: Bisphenol A (BPA); Bisphenol S (BPS); E-screen; PALM assay; Thermal paper.
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