Toxic Money: How to Protect Yourself

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 36

A reader sent me a link recently to a study that found high levels of the toxin BPA on dollar bills and receipts.

The Washington Toxics Coalition found that the thermal printers commonly used in the retail industry for printing receipts use BPA in the ink.   Receipts shockingly contain BPA at levels 250-1000 times higher than that found in canned foods.   Receipts placed in your wallet then easily transfer the toxin to paper bills as well as your own skin!

According to the study, 95% of money tested positive for BPA.

Skull & Crossbones Fingerless Mittens Even more alarming, BPA coming into contact with the skin penetrates to a depth that cannot be easily washed off!

BPA, if you remember, is an acronym for bisphenol A, an organic compound widely used in the plastics industry. BPA has been found to be highly estrogenic, having the potential to disrupt normal hormonal function in both humans and animals.   It has also been linked to obesity, cancer, infertility and other modern ailments.   Canada recently became the first country to declare BPA an official toxin.

To avoid contamination, a staff scientist with Washington Toxics suggested refusing store receipts or storing them separately from the cash in your wallet.   This suggestion seemed rather lame to me considering how alarmingly pervasive BPA has become in our environment.

Considering that we have to touch cash or receipts at least once in awhile and that the high levels of BPA we come in contact with from these sources doesn’t appear to readily wash off, we all need a better strategy for dealing with this toxin that is now everywhere.

I, for one, am not going to go through life wearing gloves.

I have a much better idea:    Drink kombucha!

Kombucha Prevents Toxins from Doing Damage

You see, this humble traditional, fermented drink originally from China and Russia contains glucuronic acid which is a powerful aid to the body’s natural cleansing processes.    The liver normally produces high amounts of glucuronic acid to detoxify the body.

This powerful acid which is not readily commercially synthesized binds up all manner of poisons and toxins like BPA and quickly moves them to the excretory system.      Once bound by glucuronic acid, toxins no longer can be absorbed by body systems so their toxic properties are in essence “deactivated”.

The powerful detoxification aspects of kombucha were discovered by Soviet researchers who were determined to find the reason why the districts of Solikamsk and Beresniki in the west central Ural mountains in the industrialized, post WWII era had hardly any cancer cases despite devastating environmental pollution.   Cancer cases in neighboring districts were extremely high in comparison.   Pollution from potassium, lead, mercury, and asbestos mining was so bad that it was causing trees and fish to die.    Production facilities were spewing as much pollution in the cancer free districts as in the high cancer districts.

What researchers discovered was that homes in the cancer free districts were never without fermenting crocks of kvass and kombucha!   No other social or environmental differences were noted.   The Russians from the cancer free districts even drank as much vodka as the other Russians but interestingly did not have the social drunkeness problems that typically go hand in hand with heavy drinking.

It seems to me that the best way to prevent pervasive environmental toxins like BPA from poisoning you day after day, year in and year out is to deploy a traditional weapon used for centuries  – kombucha!

I liken drinking kombucha to having a second liver.     With liver functions overloaded and stressed from our increasingly polluted environment, who can afford to overlook this easy, inexpensive way to keep these poisons from damaging our tissues and disrupting our hormones?

If you are interested in learning how to make kombucha yourself for just pennies a quart, I offer four free video lessons on traditional kombucha brewing in my archives.    The first two are for beginning brewers and the second two are advanced topics for the pros.

What a delicious way to keep your tissues BPA free!


Source:  Search for Health, Tom Valentine
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Comments (36)

  • Marina

    I grew my own Kombucha. I bought an active Kombucha drink from a store and made sure I could see some fogy clump in it. I drank half of the bottle and put the rest in a jar with a new tea to feed Kombucha with 1×1 old tea to new. A new Kombucha scoby grew on top of the tea in a week, I think.

    I also heard that Kombucha tea protects you from radiation. It was also studied by russian scientists after Chernobyl. They noticed that some people had been exposed to high radiation, but were okay and well. They all consumed this tea.

    August 4th, 2012 12:40 am Reply
  • Angela

    Awesomeness. I have worked retail off and on for the last 10 years. I also have been suffering from infertility. My DH and I have been trying for 3 1/2 years to get pregnant. We have tried going to a “fertility specialist” but it was kind of a horrible experience for me. First they did nothing for like 3 months trying to “catch” my cycle so they could give me meds. Then they wanted to do a D&C for no apparent reason. Every time I asked why we needed to do this, the nurse would tell me something about having polyps in my uterus. Odd thing about that is that when I had the first few ultrasounds, they found NOTHING in there. He said the lining was thicker than it “should” be, but that was it. We didn’t go through with the D&C because I didn’t have the money for it ($575 just to use the facility, and that didn’t include the procedure), and my insurance won’t pay for anything “infertility” related. I finally did start on some meds. Prometriol and clomid (or the off brand, fairly certain it wasn’t actual clomid) And then they wanted to “monitor” me. Which was another $400. Up front. Anywho. The meds have completely messed me up. And I’m still working on getting my “regular” cycles back (which were somewhat irregular, but at least I wasn’t 2 months late, a month late….2 weeks late….and so on). So not only did it mess my body up, it’s messing with my emotions too. Being that late every cycle of course got my hopes up that I was preggy (even tho the tests all came back neg…..but I was SO late, ya know?) SO sorry for any tmi, but I have been so frustrated lately about being suckered on the whole fertility specialist thing.

    Anywho, the reason for this long post is that I’m interested in trying some fermented drinks and traditional cooking. But I’d like to try things like kombucha before I go all gung ho and spend a bunch of money on something that I’m not sure I’ll like the taste of. Does anyone know of a good way to try kombucha and water kifir and so on? Um, what I am asking is where can I try it, before I buy it? 😛

    Thank you for your blog Sarah. I am getting SO much information!

    December 1st, 2011 3:11 am Reply
    • Kristen

      Hi, Angela- I’m really sorry you’re having to go through all that. I had severe endometriosis for years and got tired of the doctors telling me I was a nut when I said I wouldn’t do the usual treatment (Lupron) and wanted to try another alternative. I finally found a supportive doctor who believes most issues like this are related to hormone imbalances and hormone allergies. In my case, I’m allergic to synthetic progesterones like what is found in birth control pills. It took me years to detox from being on all the drugs, but once I did, things totally turned around for me. I would encourage you to find a good naturopath or DO in your area and get their advice. And although I’m not a medical professional, I’m just a person who has lived through something similar and am giving advice based on that, I would definitely embrace a traditional diet (for anything, but especially if you’re trying to get pregnant)…maybe even GAPS. I truly believe what my doctor said about a lot of these “unexplained” issues being allergy/autoimmune related, and GAPS can do wonders for people with those kinds of issues. Detoxing and going to a traditional diet and using non-toxic products (makeup, soap, cleaning products) has changed my life. You can find raw Kombucha and coconut water kefir at Whole Foods (and probably comparable stores in your area) to try. They’re in the refrigerated section. Best of luck with everything!

      December 1st, 2011 12:30 pm Reply
  • Ashley

    Hey Sarah- quick question. I want to buy a culture, and noticed the Kombucha culture linked in your resources page does not come with the starter liquid, but the Laurel Farms culture does. The culture linked from your resources is considerably less expensive- so I was wondering if store bought, high-quality Kombucha can be used as the starter liquid, or if it needs to be home-fermented. This would be about half the price of the Laurel Farms, but I don’t want to buy the culture unless I know I have a starter liquid so I can start brewing right away:) Thanks!

    January 1st, 2011 8:31 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Ashley, I am pretty sure you can use raw apple cider vinegar as your starter in a pinch. Not sure about the store bought kombucha particularly since it has recently been reformulated and now contains a different ratio of beneficial bacteria to beneficial yeasts as compared to home brewed.

      January 1st, 2011 9:30 pm Reply
  • Andrea Skinner

    Thanks so much for the information on Kombucha. I had been aware of BPA in store receipts and have been declining them as much as possible. I like the Kombucha solution so much better! We’ve tried Kombucha from the health food store – very expensive. I hope to give your method a try. Thanks again.

    December 23rd, 2010 9:49 pm Reply
  • Rachel

    I read this post this morning and have since been spending ALL DAY doing research about Kombucha. I watched your video on how to make it and everything. I really want to try it, I just have read some things about it that aren’t so good. What I’ve read is that there have been a few deaths linked to Kombucha due to acidosis. I’ve also read that there have been no scientific evidence for any of the claims about it. Here is a link to one of the articles about it:

    Anyway, I have been reading such conflicting information about it and I just want to do what is best for my family. How do you trust something that has caused deaths? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not attacking or anything. I REALLY want to try it. I’m just curious what your take on it is. By the way, I LOVE your blog. It has been so helpful for me and my family!

    December 21st, 2010 11:51 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Rachel, just remember that Big Pharma doesn’t like kombucha as it keeps folks well and healthy. There is plenty of scientific evidence … it is just in Europe and not in the USA. The Soviets studied kombucha extensively and it was part of the Olympic training program for their athletes as kombucha clears lactic acid from sore muscles and helped them train harder.You are always going to find conflicting info in the internet. Just know that kombucha has been used for CENTURIES.
      There have been a few deaths from people drinking too much WATER for heaven’s sake (called hyponatremia). History is the best teacher here. Modern science doesn’t have a clue about stuff like this nor does it want to as it won’t make Big Pharma any money so they diss it and spread misinformation about it.

      December 22nd, 2010 8:19 am Reply
      • Rachel

        Thanks Sarah, I’m still a bit leery of trying it, since I don’t know what kind of conditions the “mother” would be exposed to before it got to my house. Also, I would have to convince my husband of it because he’s not entirely on the natural foods bandwagon (I’m still trying to convince him to let me try the kefir thing). Anyway, I really appreciate all the videos and posts you have done, they make the Real Food thing a lot easier!

        December 22nd, 2010 12:46 pm Reply
        • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

          Why don’t you buy a bottle of kombucha from the store first then to try? Also, If you buy the culture from a reputable outfit such as what is listed in my Resources section (see tab at top of blog), then you have no worries about quality.

          December 22nd, 2010 1:40 pm Reply
  • Chris

    How much would you have to drink daily to get the benefits?

    December 21st, 2010 11:48 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Chris, no idea. I personally drink as much or as little as I wish. Some days its a whole quart (in the summer when it’s really hot as kombucha is super hydrating) and other days a small glass only.

      December 22nd, 2010 8:21 am Reply
  • Milena

    Does Kombucha have caffeine in it? I’m suffering from postpartum anxiety and caffeine would throw me off the deep end 😉
    Thanks for your wonderful blog. I LOVE reading it!

    December 21st, 2010 10:20 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Milena, the caffeine is used up in the fermenting process as part of the synthesis of cleansing acids (I read this in Betsy Pryor’s book on Kombucha years ago). I am super sensitive to caffeine as well and have no trouble with it.

      December 22nd, 2010 8:23 am Reply
  • Lovelyn

    I’ve never had kombucha before and prior to reading this article had no desire to try it. I’m big into fermenting things though, so I guess I’ll start reading up on it and give making it a try.

    December 21st, 2010 10:09 pm Reply
  • Stanley Fishman

    Hi Nancy,

    We have been making our own Kombucha for over a year. It tastes and feels much better than anything we bought from a store. If you must buy from a store, GT Daves organic raw kombucha is the same as it always was, and tastes the same. Only the unflavored version is the same though, and the others have been changed.

    December 21st, 2010 9:15 pm Reply
  • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Nancy, I do think the homemade is better than the store version now that it has been reformulated. I do not like the new formula and do not experience the same digestive boost that the old one provided and that homemade provides as well. It’s a shame as the old product was so excellent. Leave it to the FDA to wreck things as usual. At least our kitchens aren’t regulated yet!!!!!!

    December 21st, 2010 9:12 pm Reply
  • Joyce Handy

    Sarah, where do you suggest getting a scoby/mother? Also, is it a form of fungi? I have a severe mold allergy and can’t find info about whether or not it is ok for someone like me to drink Kombucha. Also, wanted to tell you that I really appreciate your previous post about sodium benzoate and how it’s interaction with citric acid creates benzene; truly unbelievable and unconscionable!

    December 21st, 2010 8:27 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Joyce, if you click on the “Resources” tab at the top of my blog, you will find a company called “Cultures for Health” where you can mail order a scoby for a very reasonable price.
      Yes, kombucha is a symbiotic relationship between yeast and bacteria BUT the yeast are beneficial yeasts not pathogenic yeasts like mold. Folks with mold allergy are, in my experience, fine drinking kombucha. There are always exceptions, but the majority are fine with it.

      December 21st, 2010 9:10 pm Reply
      • Susan

        I think part of the confusion may be how the scoby is sometimes referred to as a ‘mushroom’.

        December 22nd, 2010 2:06 pm Reply
  • Mike in Lakeland

    As if debt-created currency wasn’t already toxic enough! Informative post — thanks.

    December 21st, 2010 7:20 pm Reply
  • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

    Hi cj, the sugar is used up during the fermentation process. If you leave it to ferment 10-12 days, there is negligible sugar left.

    December 21st, 2010 5:46 pm Reply
  • Cathy

    Yeah for Kombucha! I had a mother in the fridge for a long time, it looks and smells ok. I made kombucha and it is taking a long time to ferment, it’s been over a week and it still tastes like sweet tea, not tangy like I have made before. We are in Central PA and it has been very, very cold outside and in our house as well. The mother isn’t producing a baby :) and looks a little different. I hope I didn’t kill her with the cold temps. Any ideas!

    December 21st, 2010 4:11 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Cathy, if the mother culture was in the fridge for a long time (it must be in bowl with kombucha liquid to keep it moist and a cloth lid else it will suffocate/dry out), then it may be dead and you may need to start over with a fresh culture especially if its been fermenting for a week and still sweet with no baby forming.

      December 21st, 2010 4:14 pm Reply
  • jean finch


    We spend a lot of time on a boat and cannot make kombucha is it all right to buy it when I can find it? I have not seen it at Publix but some health food stores have it! I know it would be better to make it but would it be worth buying when I cannot make it? I do so enjoy your site!

    Jean Finch

    December 21st, 2010 3:53 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Jean, yes – by all means buy it! It is expensive this way, but kombucha is well worth it if you are unable to make it periodically.

      December 21st, 2010 4:01 pm Reply
  • MAS

    Would other fermented foods such as raw kimchi provide the same benefit?

    December 21st, 2010 2:39 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi MAS, other fermented foods would provide a wonderful probiotic element, but only kombucha contains glucuronic acid which is the cleansing benefit for removing toxins from the body.

      December 21st, 2010 2:48 pm Reply
  • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

    Hi Heather, I drank kombucha daily for 2 of my pregnancies. I have no idea why anyone would say it causes miscarriage? It is not toxic and is a nourishing, traditional beverage used for centuries.

    December 21st, 2010 2:36 pm Reply
  • Heather11

    I have been told by others that kombucha can cause miscarriages, is there any truth to this?

    December 21st, 2010 2:24 pm Reply
  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    The wonders of kombucha will never cease! We constantly have several gallons brewing in our home. I’m expecting now and have had trouble drinking it for a couple weeks, but am starting to get back into it. Luckily since I started several months ago it is safe in pregnancy! Plus of course all those wonderful probiotics. Love it.

    That’s awful about one more source of BPA, though. :( It will never stop.

    December 21st, 2010 1:15 pm Reply
  • Joyce

    Well, I guess that would be me. I’m off to work in an hour to spend a whole day touching hundreds of receipts and thousands of dollars. I will be sure to pack a bottle of my latest batch of Kombucha flavored with blackberry cider. This will be more incentive for me to remember to use it regularly.
    It does worry me some that I’ve been handling all this for 10 yrs. before discovering the Kombucha. I like it because I’ve never really been a soda drinker and it gives me some variety from milk, tea or coffee.

    December 21st, 2010 2:10 pm Reply
  • Daryl Rogers

    I use my debit card almost exclusively (I get cash back on debit card purchases too) and decline the receipts when possible. I started for environmental concerns, but it’s also a frugal bonus. Glad I’m on the right track, but I love that Kombucha is a wonder drink. My husband always refers to it as vinegar and says how gross it is, but since the only things to drink in my house are water or kombucha, he’s starting to warm up to it. (He always says how thirst quenching it is). Yea for Kombucha!

    December 21st, 2010 12:53 pm Reply
  • Rachel

    I feel bad for the unknowing check out clerks who touch hundreds of these receipts and hand money all day long. My scoby has been long neglected. I guess it’s time to brew up some new tea.

    December 21st, 2010 12:23 pm Reply
    • Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

      Hi Rachel, the study also found that retail workers have 30% more BPA in their bodies than folks who do not work in retail! These folks should most definitely be drinking kombucha!!

      December 21st, 2010 1:55 pm Reply
  • Vicki Brooks


    I had no ideas about the dangers of thermal printers. We process several credit card transactions daily and were never aware there was anything to be concerned about. Thank you for opening our eyes – I think I will wear gloves from now on.



    December 21st, 2010 11:36 am Reply

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