Alternatives: BPA (for thermal paper)

On Tuesday, July 31, 2012 the US EPA’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Program released the following draft report for public comment: "Bisphenol A (BPA) Alternatives in Thermal Paper," available online here. DfE is an eco-design arm of the US Environmental Protection Agency, working from a slightly different angle than, say, ISO 14006:2011 —  differences and similarities explained elsewhere).

Thermal paper is a paper is often seen in cash registers (for receipts) and credit card terminals. The paper has a coating.  It feels slippery-smooth, plastic-y.  The "thermal" moniker is because the coating changes color when exposed to heat. And the most popular chemical that puts the thermal in thermal paper the notorious BPA.

EPA's alternatives to BPA  The new draft report from EPA is an assessment of 19 chemical alternatives that may substitute for BPA, which is used as a developer in thermal paper. Hazard profiles for the 19 alternative chemicals are included.  Here's the list:
  1. Bisphenol F  Bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)methane
  2. Bisphenol C 2,2"-Bis(4-hydroxy-3-methylphenyl)propane
  3. MBHA  Methyl bis(4-hydroxyphenyl)acetate
  4. BisOPP-A  4,4"-Isopropyllidenebis(2-phenylphenol)
  5. Bisphenol AP  4,4"-(1-Phenylethylidene)bisphenol
  6. Substituted phenolic compound, PROPRIETARY #1
  7. Substituted phenolic compound, PROPRIETARY #2
  8. PHBB  Benzyl 4-hydroxybenzoate
  9. Bisphenol S 4-Hydroxyphenyl sulfone
  10. 2,4-BPS  2,4‟-Bis(hydroxyphenyl)sulfone
  11. TGSA  bis-(3-allyl-4-hydroxyphenyl) sulfone
  12. BPS-MAE Phenol,4-[[4-(2-propen-1-yloxy)phenyl]sulfonyl]-
  13. BPS-MPE 4-Hydroxy-4‟-benzyloxydiphenylsulfone
  14. D-8  4-hydroxyphenyl 4-isoprooxyphenylsulfone
  15. D-90  Phenol, 4,4‟-sulfonylbis-, polymer with 1,1‟-oxybis[2-chloroethane]  
  16. DD-70 1,7-bis(4-Hydroxyphenylthio)-3,5-dioxaheptane
  17. Pergafast 201N-(p-Toluenesulfonyl)-N'-(3-p-toluenesulfonyloxyphenyl)urea
  18. BTUM 4,4'-bis(N-carbamoyl-4-methylbenzenesulfomide)diphenylmethane
  19. UU  Urea Urethane Compound
Note: A chemical’s inclusion in the draft report does not constitute EPA endorsement. This draft report does not identify functional chemicals with low concern for all human health and environmental hazard endpoints; all of the alternatives are associated with some trade-offs. The report provides background information about how thermal paper is made, and considerations for choosing an alternative.

DfE says it will be accepting comments on this report through October 1, 2012. Please direct comments and questions to project lead Cal Baier-Anderson @ epa [dot] gov.

Kathleen Hurley