Reports indicate that the controversial plastics compound bisphenol A (BPA) is back into the limelight.
One study has revealed that the chemical is readily absorbed through the skin, while the second study has found that people who routinely touch BPA-laden till receipts have higher than average levels of the chemical in their bodies, reports Nature.
Animal studies have confirmed that high doses of BPA are harmful, but some evidence that it may also be harmful at low doses has yet to convince regulators to take decisive action against the compound.
The chemical mimics the effects of oestrogen in the body, so health concerns are especially pressing for pregnant women and some scientists also advise against the use of babies' bottles that contain BPA.
BPA is commonly used in food and drink packaging, where the molecule is usually locked in as part of a complex polymer.
However, concerns have also been raised over its presence in the thermal paper used mainly in till receipts. In thermal paper the compound exists as a free monomer, which makes it easier for the body to absorb than other forms found in food packaging.
Daniel Zalko, a toxicologist at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research in Paris, and his colleagues have shown that free BPA can indeed be 'efficiently' absorbed through the skin.
The findings could help to explain why BPA levels in the general population appear to be higher than doses theoretically received through food and drink.
"It would be smart to advise pregnant women to avoid or wash their hands after touching till receipts," the study added.
The study has been published in Chemosphere1.