Triclosan: Water Treatment

A March, 2007 memo from the East Bay Municipal Utility District reads:

"In response to emerging Triclosan or triclocarban environmental concerns, and recent health studies of the efficacy of antibacterial soaps, Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) recommends a District-wide phase-out of products containing these ingredients by implementing the. . .Phase out over a period of 12 months the purchase of antibacterial soaps at the District. . . [and] Ensure that future purchases of alcohol-based hand sanitizers used for infection control contain 60-70% isopropanol and/or ethanol. Specifications for Purchasing to set up a new specific warehouse item are outlined...” (See Memo)

The utility published a factsheet for distribution to its customers explaining, “Concern is growing about the presence in the environment of antibacterial compounds, such as Triclosan, and its chemical cousin triclocarban. Triclosan and triclocarban are common ingredients in many everyday cleaning products such as hand soaps, dish and laundry soaps, personal care products such as toothpaste and mouthwash, and can be found in institutional, clinical, commercial and residential settings. These compounds can be washed down the drain, can persist through wastewater treatment, and make their way into waterways.” Pipeline, 2007

A recent Associated Press investigation, covered by the Washington Post (March 10, 2008) and newspapers across the country identified pharmaceuticals and triclocarban showing up in drinking water.

On July 7, 2008, the advisory committee for Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) in California, Tri-Tac, submitted comments to the EPA highlighting their concerns about Triclosan and its impact on water quality, aquatic organisms and biosolids. Read their comments here. Tri-Tac is jointly sponsored by the California Association of Sanitation Agencies, the California Water Environment Association and the League of California Cities.

See also Beyond Pesticides' Water web page


Triclosan in surface waters and waste water treatment

  • Short-term dynamics and retention of Triclosan in the lower Hudson River Estuary (Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2008)
  • Pharmaceutical and personal care products in tile drainage following land application of municipal biosolids (Science of The Total Environment, 2008)
  • Runoff of pharmaceuticals and personal care products following application of biosolids to an agricultural field (Science of The Total Environment, 2008)
  • Co-occurrence of triclocarban and Triclosan in US water resources (Environmental Science & Technology, 2005)
  • An ecological risk assessment for Triclosan in lotic systems following discharge from wastewater treatment plants in the United States (Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, 2002)