Jan 22, 2018 | Updated: 09:54 AM EDT

Defeating Antibacterial Contamination With Bacteria: Newest Breakthrough On Saving The Environment

Apr 24, 2017 02:10 AM EDT

The use of disinfectants has been proven to be not the best option in keeping things clean, as they contain harmful antimicrobial chemicals like triclosan. Triclosan is said to be obstructing the endoctrine systems of wildlife and cause toxic effect on their reproduction making it one of the top 10 contaminants in rivers.

According to FDA, there are also studies investigating the potential risk of skin cancer to animals. In addition to that is the potential breakdown of triclosan to other chemicals on human skin after exposure to triclosan to ultraviolet (UV) rays.

However, a new study conducted by assistant professor of environmental engineering Prof. Yu "Frank" Yang at the University of Nevada has unlocked a new potential way to lessen the presence of triclosan. This chemical is also linked to antibiotic resistance problems.

Triclosan is an antimicrobial chemical that is added to many consumer products like antibacterial soaps, toothpastes, body washes and cosmetic products. It can also be found on in clothes, kitchenware, toys and furniture. Just recently, the FDA issued a rule to ban products containing triclosan because of safety issues, as reported by CNN.

Although the chemical is being phased out, it's still prevalent and has been detected in natural waters, sediments, biosolids and soils. According to Assistant Prof. Yang, The antibiotic resistance caused by these antimicrobial agents is becoming a global problem. If environmental bacteria become resistant to antibiotics, we won't be able to fight it.

Assistant Prof. Yang and his team conducted the research of creating a treatment process for the triclosan using a bacteria strain that is mixed with organic material and the results were amazing. Assistant Prof. Yang's research was able to determine that this mixture reduced about half of the life of triclosan to 10 hours. The result was determined by the concentration of the organic material, the chemistry of the water and the microbial activities.

The study titled "Dual Role of Organic Matter in the Anaerobic Degradation of Triclosan" was supported by the University of Nevada Reno Startup Fund, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy and the China Scholarship Council. This is for the support of Assistant Prof. Yang as a member of the research team.

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