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Environ Sci Technol. 2002 Dec 1;36(23):4998-5004.

Triclosan: occurrence and fate of a widely used biocide in the aquatic environment: field measurements in wastewater treatment plants, surface waters, and lake sediments.

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Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG), Uberlandstrasse 133, CH-8600 Dübendorf Switzerland.


Triclosan is used as an antimicrobial agent in a wide range of medical and consumer care products. To investigate the occurrence and fate of triclosan in the aquatic environment, analytical methods for the quantification of triclosan in surface water and wastewater, sludge, and sediment were developed. Furthermore, the fate of triclosan in a wastewater treatment plant (biological degradation, 79%; sorption to sludge, 15%; input into the receiving surface water, 6%) was measured during a field study. Despite the high overall removal rate, the concentration in the wastewater effluents were in the range of 42-213 ng/L leading to concentrations of 11-98 ng/L in the receiving rivers. Moreover, a high removal rate of 0.03 d(-1) for triclosan in the epilimnion of the lake Greifensee was observed. This is due to photochemical degradation. The measured vertical concentration profile of triclosan in a lake sediment core of lake Greifensee reflects its increased use over 30 years. As the measured concentrations in surface waters are in the range of the predicted no effect concentration of 50 ng/L, more measurements and a detailed investigation of the degradation processes are needed.

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