Phthalates are a group of chemicals used in a variety of consumer products, including personal care products and food packaging. They are also found in the coating of thermal paper receipts, which are widely used in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and other places of business.

Recent studies have linked phthalates to reproductive toxicity and fertility problems in both men and women. In men, phthalates have been associated with decreased sperm motility and concentration, lower testosterone levels, and poor semen quality. In women, phthalates are linked to increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and birth defects.

There is some evidence that handling thermal paper receipts may increase exposure to phthalates, as people may absorb the chemicals through their skin. For this reason, it is recommended to wash your hands after handling receipts, and to avoid touching your face or eating after handling them. However, receipts and packaging contribute only a small amount to the total amount of phthlates in food.


Matt is an NHS Consultant in Newcastle with over ten years of experience. His PhD research into subfertility and miscarriage involved developing a clinical trial and patient engagement.