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Canada targets triclosan in wastewater

by Britt E. Erickson
December 5, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 48

Credit: Shutterstock
Triclosan is used in personal care products, including some toothpastes.
Photo shows toothpaste on a toothbrush.
Credit: Shutterstock
Triclosan is used in personal care products, including some toothpastes.

The Canadian government has deemed the antimicrobial agent triclosan as toxic to numerous aquatic organisms. In an assessment released on Nov. 26, the ministers of health and the environment concluded that triclosan may cause reduced growth and reproductive effects in algae, invertebrates, amphibians, fish, and other aquatic organisms at concentrations found in the environment. Triclosan is used in numerous consumer products, including cosmetics and nonprescription drugs, to deodorize and stop the spread of bacteria and fungi. The chemical gets washed down the drain and “is always present in aquatic ecosystems due to its continuous releases” from wastewater treatment plants, the Canadian ministers noted. To manage the risk, the Canadian government is planning to require formulators and importers of products that contain triclosan to develop and implement pollution prevention plans. Such plans would aim to reduce concentrations of triclosan in wastewater from the use of consumer products. The Canadian government is accepting comments on its proposed risk management approach until Jan. 25, 2017. It expects to finalize the approach by May 2020.


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