Analysis of core samples reveals that the amount of triclosan has slowly increased in eight lakebeds since the compound was introduced into products in the early 1970s.
When exposed to sunlight and chlorine in the water, triclosan breaks down into a toxic dioxin that may prove harmful to the environment.
Despite its popularity, the FDA has found triclosan is no better at cleaning human skin than simple soap and water. But it can prevent gingivitis when used in toothpaste.
“It’s important for people to know that what they use in their house every day can have an impact in the environment far beyond their home,” University of Minnesota engineering researcher William Arnold said.
“Consumers need to know that they may be using products with triclosan and should read product labels to understand what they are buying,” Arnold added.
He added that other studies around the world have found similar levels of contamination from triclosan and its associated pollutants.
But the Minnesota study was the first to look at several different lakes with various sources of wastewater runoff.