Does Soap Cause Problems The Second Time Around?

When you rinse away soap or shampoo, you probably don't think about the path it takes once it goes down the drain. But recent studies show it may be worth our attention.

Working with the Evironmental Protection Agency (EPA), researchers at Baylor University found traces of common personal-care ingredients in fish that swim in US waterways. They were surprised to find just how harmfully high these concentrations are, drawing attention to the fact that there are currently no federal guidelines or testing standards for personal care products in wastewater.

In England, two university research teams looked beyond how personal-care ingredients could be harming wildlife and, instead, studied how they may be coming back around to humans. The wastewater that catches these ingredients often ends up in the soil on farms, which could mean a potential chemical effect on the products grown and eventually consumed by people. In fact, the researchers suspect that these "recycled" chemicals may lead to antibiotic resistance.

In the U.S. and abroad, these findings will hopefully grab the attention of manufacturers, who have the power to reduce harmful pollution by changing the chemicals they choose to use.

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