Last updated June 20, 2018 at 10:36 am
Findings ‘a wake-up call’ on hidden chemical impact.
A common ingredient in toothpaste and hand wash could be contributing to antibiotic resistance, new research suggests.
Scientists identified the chemical triclosan, a compound used in more than 2,000 personal care products, which finds its way into the water system.
“Wastewater from residential areas has similar or even higher levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes compared to hospitals, where you would expect greater antibiotic concentrations,” Dr Jianhua Guo of the University of Queensland’s Advanced Water Management Centre, who led the study, says.
Guo said that few researchers had focused on non-antibiotic, antimicrobial (NAAM) chemicals in connection with antibiotic resistance.
“These chemicals are used in much larger quantities at an everyday level, so you end up with high residual levels in the wider environment, which can induce multi-drug resistance.
“This discovery provides strong evidence that the triclosan found in personal care products that we use daily is accelerating the spread of antibiotic resistance.”
Advanced Water Management Centre Director, Professor Zhiguo Yuan, said the discovery should be a wake-up call to re-evaluate the potential impact of such chemicals.
“While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the use of triclosan in antibacterial soap, the previous lack of unequivocal evidence prevented such a policy being adopted in other countries,” Professor Yuan said.