Study: Soap antibiotic more pervasive on Minn. lake bottoms

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An antibiotic commonly found in soaps and cosmetics is increasingly found on Minnesota freshwater lake and river bottoms, where it turns toxic, the Star Tribune reports.

That's according to new research that examined sediment in eight lakes and rivers used by municipal wastewater treatment plants, the newspaper reports. The study found that amounts of triclosan and the toxins it forms have been rising steadily since the antibiotic was first introduced in soap in the 1960s, the Star Tribune says.

"The big significance is that it's a common household product that's being found well beyond its point of use – the home," William Arnold, a civil engineering professor in the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering and the author of the study, said in the Pioneer Press.

The effects of triclosan on water ecology aren't fully understood, the Pioneer Press reports, although triclosan kills algae and can work its way up the food chain.

Triclosan research by scientists has been ongoing. But the latest study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota indicates how pervasive the contaminant has become, the university says in a press release. The full research is newly published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Here's a two-minute overview from the university:

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