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Front Microbiol. 2015 Jan 15;5:780. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2014.00780. eCollection 2014.

The impact of triclosan on the spread of antibiotic resistance in the environment.

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Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering, Marquette University , Milwaukee, WI, USA.


Triclosan (TCS) is a commonly used antimicrobial agent that enters wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) and the environment. An estimated 1.1 × 10(5) to 4.2 × 10(5) kg of TCS are discharged from these WWTPs per year in the United States. The abundance of TCS along with its antimicrobial properties have given rise to concern regarding its impact on antibiotic resistance in the environment. The objective of this review is to assess the state of knowledge regarding the impact of TCS on multidrug resistance in environmental settings, including engineered environments such as anaerobic digesters. Pure culture studies are reviewed in this paper to gain insight into the substantially smaller body of research surrounding the impacts of TCS on environmental microbial communities. Pure culture studies, mainly on pathogenic strains of bacteria, demonstrate that TCS is often associated with multidrug resistance. Research is lacking to quantify the current impacts of TCS discharge to the environment, but it is known that resistance to TCS and multidrug resistance can increase in environmental microbial communities exposed to TCS. Research plans are proposed to quantitatively define the conditions under which TCS selects for multidrug resistance in the environment.


antibiotic resistance; antimicrobial resistance; biosolids; triclosan; wastewater

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