Triclosan in soaps appears to contribute to dioxin in lakes

A new study reported by researchers at the University of Minnesota has found that triclosan, a antibacterial agent widely used in soaps and similar personal care products, as well as in  the manufacture of textiles, leather, paper, plastic and rubber to stop the growth of bacteria, fungus, mildew, and to prevent odours, is the dominant source of several forms of dioxin in lakes which are receiving effluents from sewage treatment plants.

The research indicates that the use of chlorine in wastewater treatment plants where triclosan is present in the effluent leads to formation of chlorinated triclosan compounds which then react photochemically to form four types of dioxin. In lakes with no wastewater input the researchers found no dioxins. Dioxins are a family of chemicals many of which are highly toxic and carcinogenic.

Environment Canada announced last March that it will “initiate consultations with industry on the potential for voluntary reductions in the use of triclosan in products”.

The new research is available in the form of an abstract (free) or full article (subscription or fee required) at http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es3045289?prevSearch=triclosan%2B2013&searchHistoryKey=

The Environment Canada position on triclosan is at http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/nr-cp/_2012/2012-48-eng.php with a link on that page to a more detailed government Q&A.

 

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