New pollution threat comes from your own sink
They're called "freshwater" lakes -- but these days, they're about as "fresh" as the local sewer. Once-pristine, U.S. lakes are now so overflowing with chemical filth it's a wonder we're not overrun with mutant bog monsters.
I don't have the space here to list all the dangerous chemicals turning up in the water, so I'm going to focus on just one for today. It's called triclosan, and if you use antibacterial soap, you're part of the problem -- even if you don't know it.
Well, now you're in the know. Every time you suds up with antibacterial soap, you send a load of triclosan through the plumbing and out the other side.
And the other side is usually a lake somewhere.
In one new study, researchers looked at eight lakes in Minnesota -- land of 1,000 glimmering lakes.
But maybe that glimmer is really just a chemical sheen, because all seven of the lakes with wastewater input -- water that's supposedly been treated and "cleaned" -- had high levels of triclosan in them.
The one lake with no wastewater input was free of the chemical.
The problem isn't just the triclosan, although that's plenty bad enough already.
When triclosan goes through wastewater treatment, it combines with chlorine to form chlorinated triclosan derivatives (say that five times fast). And when the chlorinated triclosan derivatives are exposed to sunlight -- like, say, while glimmering on the surface of a Minnesota lake -- they form dioxins.
Next thing you know, you need a hazmat suit just to go for a swim -- and don't even think about eating the fish that inhale this dirty water.
They say change begins at home, so stop dumping this stuff into lakes by not using it in the first place. But don't just do it for the lakes -- do it for yourself too, because triclosan isn't some magic hand-cleaner. It's actually a dangerous endocrine-disrupting pesticide linked to brain damage, heart trouble, reproductive problems, and more.
Besides, even the feds admit it doesn't clean hands any better than plain old soap.
I'm not done with waste in the water yet -- keep reading for the latest on fish.