New warning: dangerous antibacterial soap chemical found in fish

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 by: S. L. Baker, features writer
Tags: antibacterial soap, fish, health news

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(NaturalNews) The current mania over putting anti-bacterial chemicals in everything from cleaning wipes and hand soap to detergent and toothpaste has resulted in the widespread contamination of the environment with two related toxins often found in these products -- triclocarban (TCC) and triclosan.

Never mind that in lab studies these chemicals have been found to disrupt hormones, probably cause cancer and spur the growth of drug-resistant superbugs. The FDA seems to think it's fine and dandy that humans keep pumping these substances into our bodies through contact with skin, and flushing these toxins down the drain into the water table.

At the recent national meeting of the American Chemical Society held in Anaheim, California, scientists sounded yet another warning about the clear and present danger of the antibacterial ingredient TCC -- at least in the aquatic ecosystem. For the first time, scientists have evidence that this endocrine system disruptor is accumulating in fish. The animals encounter TCC as they swim in water that washes down drains and flows out of sewage treatment facilities into lakes and streams.

And, no, this isn't some minor finding. The researchers found TCC has a "strong" tendency to bioaccumulate in fish -- that means the fish take in the substance far faster than their bodies can break it down and eliminate it. Because TCC so strongly bioaccumulates in fish, even minute and seemingly harmless amounts in the water can build up to toxic amounts inside the animals' bodies.

"Due to its widespread usage, TCC is present in small amounts in 60 percent of all rivers and streams in the United States," study leader Ida Flores of the University of California-Davis said in a press statement. "Fish are commonly exposed to TCC, even though much of it is eliminated by wastewater treatment plants."

Dr. Flores soft-pedaled the idea that fish becoming loaded with TCC has much to do directly with human health -- because TCC supposedly doesn't bioaccumulate in humans and certain other mammals. Instead, the human body quickly breaks down, or metabolizes, TCC. That changes it into other substances that are excreted in urine and feces.

However, this skips over several important possibilities. First of all, because TCC is an endocrine disruptor, will fish contaminated with the chemical lose the ability to reproduce, thereby reducing the availability of fish as food?

And if fish contaminated with TCC are eaten, what does that mean for the human body? If TCC is "changed into other substances" by the human body, where is the proof those metabolites are safe for human health?

Dr. Flores noted that unmetabolized compounds, such as dioxins, can't be excreted from the human body -- unlike TCC -- and so they are particularly dangerous to humans. People are exposed to dioxins through the environment and the food chain, including dairy products, meat, fish and shellfish. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned this exposure can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system and may cause cancer.

Unfortunately, although this was not covered by Dr. Flores, other investigators have uncovered a critical connection between an anti-bacterial soap chemical and dioxins. As previously covered in NaturalNews, University of Minnesota civil engineering professor William Arnold and his colleague Kristopher McNeill have published their findings that TCC-related triclosan, when exposed to sunlight, generates dioxins.

And other researchers from the University of Minnesota's Institute of Technology, Pace Analytical (Minneapolis), the Science Museum of Minnesota and Virginia Tech, have documented that triclosan is transformed into dioxins that are accumulating in the environment.

Bottom line: any line of reasoning that downplays the seriousness of environmental contamination with anti-bacterial chemicals is just plain fishy -- and probably dangerous to human as well as animal health.

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