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Cleaning Product Toxins Found in Crops

Researchers study how pepper plants absorb common antimicrobial found in personal care items. Andrew Masterson reports.

It’s all a matter of language, in the end. Take toiletries: what the manufacturers might term “personal care products”, scientists such as Khang Huynh of the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering at Michigan State University, US, could call “emerging organic contaminants”.

At issue for Huynh, who with colleagues has written a paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, is the use of antibacterials in household cleaning and home hygiene products.

In particular, the team has looked at an antimicrobial compound known as triclocarban (TCC). The compound was recently banned in the US an ingredient in soaps, but remains widely used in other care products. TCC has been shown to be present in hefty quantities in treated wastewater, much of which is used to irrigate crops.

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