News / Health

    Antibacterial Products Pollute Freshwater Lakes

    Lake Huron in the U.S. state of Michigan (file photo).Lake Huron in the U.S. state of Michigan (file photo).
    x
    Lake Huron in the U.S. state of Michigan (file photo).
    Lake Huron in the U.S. state of Michigan (file photo).
    Jessica Berman
    So-called “antibacterial” products are everywhere today - in stores, homes and classrooms around the world - to reduce the spread of colds and other infections.  But a new study conducted in the United States has found that a chemical that gives soaps and hand creams their anti-germ properties is polluting freshwater lakes.  

    The anti-bacterial agent triclosan was approved for use in the U.S. in 1964 and was added to consumer products in the 1970s.  Today, the disinfectant is in everything from soaps to laundry detergent, according to William Arnold, a civil engineering professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

    “We are using a chemical to wash our hands, brush our teeth and the like that isn’t actually necessary for the function of these products, that’s now accumulating in the environment and having potential effects out there," said Arnold.

    Researchers pulled core samples from the bottom of eight Minnesota lakes, looking for evidence of triclosan in the sediment that had built up on the lakebeds.

    “And so what we found is the concentration of triclosan was zero before 1964, and that it had increased over time, largely during the 1980s, when antibacterial hand soap came to the market," he said.

    As the use of antibacterial soaps became widespread, more and more triclosan was washed down the drain with waste water, so the most recent sediments show the highest levels of the chemical.

    Researchers say three chemical derivatives of triclosan are produced when the antibacterial agent is mixed with chlorine during the water purification process.  And when triclosan and those derivatives are exposed to sunlight, they produce dioxin compounds.  Arnold notes that dioxins harm the environment and get into the food chain, beginning with algae in lakes.

    “People often think of algae on the lake - that’s bad - but algae are a very important component in the food chain," said Arnold. "And so if you disrupt that, that’s problematic.  Triclosan is also known to make its way into fish via bioaccumulation, and so we expect these other compounds would do the same thing.”

    Arnold says triclosan and its associated chemicals can build up in the ocean, as well as in freshwater lakes.

    U.S. regulators have found no evidence that triclosan is any more effective than regular soap and water at killing germs, although as an ingredient in toothpaste it can reduce the risk of gum disease.  The Canadian government, however, has started regulating the chemical.

    An article by the University of Minnesota’s William Arnold and colleagues on the discovery of the antibacterial agent triclosan in U.S. lakes is published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.  

    You May Like

    Vietnam Mulls Tough Measures for ‘Misbehaving’ Chinese Tourists

    Move comes after footage surfaced online of Chinese travelers harassing a banana hawker in Da Nang

    Pakistan Social Media Star's Honor Killing Fuels Debate

    Qandeel Baloch's murder puts spotlight on deadly tradition and other mistreatment of women

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Borderi
    X
    July 22, 2016 12:30 AM
    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.
    Video

    Video Number of Syrian Refugees Arriving in US Jumps

    The United States is committed to resettling 85,000 refugees from around the world by October. Of that number, 10,000 will come from Syria and already some 4,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in the United States, many of them settling in the state of Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from Chicago, their arrival is not the end of a difficult journey to find peace and stability.
    Video

    Video Rio’s Trams Await Olympic Tourists

    Over the past century, many cities around the world replaced electric trams, prone to breakdowns and backups, with faster and more spacious buses. But for some reason restored antique trams are a huge tourist attraction. So it’s no wonder the authorities in Rio de Janeiro are busy restoring their city’s old tram line ahead of the Summer Olympic Games. VOA’ George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora