Triclosan contamination also bred resistant bacteria in simulated streams constructed in greenhouses as part of Rosi-Marshall's study. Plus, the ecosystems of the waterways shifted to favor cyanobacteria over algae. Since many aquatic animals depend on algae for food and other resources, a decline in algae could damage the rest of the food web.
"Cyanobacteria are less nutritious than algae and can produce toxins," said Rosi-Marshall.
NEWS: Testes Hit by Herbicides
Manufacturers include triclosan in numerous consumer products, from toothpaste to toys, with the goal of reducing bacterial build-up on our bodies and possessions.
However, there is only one proven case of a triclosan-treated product reducing disease rates, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The chemical has been proven effective in reducing gingivitis when used in toothpastes. Other studies, reviewed in the Journal of Food Protection, suggested that washing with anti-bacterial soaps can reduce germ populations on the hands, although it is difficult to directly correlate that reduction with an actual decline in disease.