New ‘Superbugs’ May Emerge in Household Products Linked to Antibiotic Resistance | Technology News

Dangerous bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics as some household items are flushed down the drain, a study warns.

Products such as soap and toothpaste may contain the chemical triclosan, which fights germs that we try to protect from germs when we brush our teeth or wash our hands.

But because of the sheer number of these items, bacteria in sewage sludge may become more and more accustomed.

Researchers in Ontario, Canada have found that triclosan has become the main antibiotic in municipal sewage that affects E. coli, a bacterial infection that can cause severe stomach pain and even kidney failure.

It can be contracted by eating contaminated food, drinking water that is not adequately treated, and coming into contact with infected animals or people.

The concern is that bacteria continuously exposed to antibiotics could become so resistant that it could develop into a “superbug” state that could render them invulnerable to the treatments we rely on.

Between 2014 and 2016, 700,000 people worldwide died from antibiotic resistance.

‘More action needed’

Even “very low levels” of triclosan can lead to the development of antibiotic resistance over time, said Holly Barrett of the University of Toronto, lead author of the Ontario study.

“With so many different antibiotics in sewage sludge, we were surprised to find that much of the sludge’s antimicrobial activity could be directly related to triclosan,” she said.

Led by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Ms. Barrett has called for greater regulation of chemical use in household and cosmetic products.

In 2016 and 2017, the FDA banned triclosan for use in antibacterial liquid soaps and topical antiseptics in health care settings.

“More action is needed,” Ms Barrett warned.

Holly Barrett led the research.Image: Dan Harveys
Holly Barrett led the research.Image: Dan Harveys

Some companies have stopped using the chemical at their own discretion.

For example, most toothpaste brands have removed it from their ingredients in recent years.

However, there is no real ban in the UK, and it can still be found in some products, such as the hand sanitizer bottles that have become more familiar to many since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Triclosan is listed in the ingredients of this bottle of hand sanitizer

The UK-made disinfectant pictured above has triclosan as one of its ingredients.

Sky News has contacted the government for comment.

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