Quiet Threat to Our Water: Dandruff Shampoo

It contains a fungicide that can hurt living things
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 7, 2013 8:25 AM CST

(Newser) – Wastewater treatment plants are designed to completely eliminate a lot of awful stuff from our water. Unfortunately, fungicide doesn't fall under the "completely eliminated" header—and a new study in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry has identified the damage it's doing to our water. And if you're wondering where it comes from, well, possibly you: Dandruff shampoos contain a considerable amount of fungicide, reports Scientific American, and a recent study detected the antifungal substance climbazole, which is commonly used in over-the-counter dandruff shampoos, in concentrations up to 0.5 micrograms per liter of water.

Noting that "knowledge of [climbazole's] potential environmental impact is lacking," this subsequent study set out to "characterize its ecotoxicity." Even at those admittedly low concentrations, fungicides can mess with living things, from algae to fish, notes Scientific American. As for plants, the study identified a "reduction of frond size in water lentils and shoot length in higher plants," indicating that climbazole can stunt plant growth. (This study comes on the heels of another that found treatment plants may miss half the drugs in our sewage.)

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