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Chemicals From Soaps, Cleansers Found in Minnesota Waterways
Date:8/17/2012

FRIDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Sediment in the rivers, streams and lakes of Minnesota contains antimicrobial compounds from personal care products, such as soaps, disinfectants and sanitizers, according to the results of a statewide study.

Researchers from Arizona State University found the active ingredients in these products -- triclosan and triclocarban -- were detected in all samples taken upstream and downstream of wastewater treatment plants. They noted that these ingredients are known as "endocrine disruptors," chemicals that interfere with hormones, and that they persist in the environment.

"This study underscores the extent to which additives of antimicrobial consumer products are polluting freshwater environments in the U.S.; it also shows natural degradation processes to be too slow to counter the continuous environmental release of these . . . chemicals," Rolf Halden, professor in the Ira A. Fulton School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, said in an Arizona State University news release.

Because the chemicals triclosan and triclocarban are absorbed through the skin when used, they contaminate blood, urine and breast milk, and eventually end up in sewage and surface waters, the researchers explained.

To determine the extent of this contamination, the investigators collected freshwater sediment samples from 12 locations upstream and downstream of wastewater treatment plants. The researchers analyzed these samples to see if they contained antimicrobial compounds.

The study revealed that overall concentrations of triclocarban were up to 58 times higher than those of triclosan.

"We were able to detect these two compounds both upstream and downstream of suspected input sources, and the levels of the antimicrobial soap ingredient triclocarban were usually higher compared to triclosan," the study's first author, Arjun Venkatesan, an environmental engineering graduate
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