Triclosan (5-chloro-2-(2,4-dichlorophenoxy)phenol) is an antimicrobial found in consumer soaps and toothpaste. It is in treated wastewater effluents at low part per billion concentrations, representing a potentially chronic exposure condition for biota inhabiting receiving streams. A naturally colonized benthos was created using flow-through indoor mesocosms. Then the benthic communities were dosed to achieve different in-stream triclosan concentrations (Control, 0.1, 0.5, 1.0, 5.0, and 10 µg/L) for 56 days. Water quality parameters and endpoints from bacteria to macroinvertebrates plus interacting abiotic components were measured. Effects of triclosan on specific microbial endpoints were observed at all doses, including an effect on litter decomposition dynamics at doses 1.0 µg/L and higher. Resistance of periphytic bacteria to triclosan significantly increased in doses 0.5 µg/L and above. By the end of dosing, the antimicrobial appeared to stimulate the stream periphyton at the three lowest doses while the two highest doses exhibited decreased stocks of periphyton, including significantly lower bacteria cell densities, and cyanobacteria abundance compared to the control. Beside an effect on benthic ostracods, the changes that occurred in the periphyton did not translate to significant change in the colonizing nematodes, the macroinvertebrate community as a whole, or other measurements of stream function. The results shed light on the role a low, chronic exposure to triclosan may play in effluent dominated streams.
Additional publication details
Effects of a chronic lower range of triclosan exposure to a stream mesocosm community