Minnesota lakes contains triclosan, say researchers. An anti-bacterial pesticide found in soap, toothpaste and many other products, triclosan is currently being (slowly) evaluated by both EPA and FDA. Meanwhile, many companies have already pulled it from their list of ingredients in response to concerns about the chemical's health and environmental harms.
University of Minnesota scientists analyzed sediment from eight lakes to understand trends in contaminant levels over time. They found that levels of triclosan and its byproducts have gone up steadily since the chemical entered the market in the 1970s.
Triclosan also shows up as a common contaminant in humans and has been linked to a range of health concerns. It can disrupt hormones and interfere with the function of human immune systems, thyroid and sperm production.
This most recent study, published last month in Environmental Science and Technology, did not evaluate triclosan's effect on lake health. The authors did note, however, the potential for toxic effects when the chemical goes through the wastewater treatment process. As MN public radio reports:
When triclosan is exposed to chlorine during wastewater disinfection and then exposed to sunlight, the byproduct can form dioxins that have potential toxic effects, researchers said. Such dioxins were also detected in the lakes during the study.
As we've reported here before, triclosan poses a completely unnecessary risk to human and environmental health. Studies have shown that washing up with plain old soap and water prevents disease just as well.