Toothpaste and handwash blamed for antibiotic resistance

This should be a wake-up call for policymakers, say scientists

A common ingredient in toothpaste and handwash could be contributing to antibiotic resistance, Australian scientists warn.

Their study found non-antibiotic, anti-microbial (NAAM) chemicals such as triclosan, a compound used in more than 2000 personal-care products, are accelerating the spread of antibiotic resistance through genetic mutation.

The Queensland authors note these chemicals are used in much larger quantities than antibiotics, resulting in high residual levels in the wider environment and widespread multi-drug resistance.

“Wastewater from residential areas has similar or even higher levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antibiotic-resistance genes compared to hospitals, where you would expect greater antibiotic concentrations," says lead researcher Dr Jianhua Guo, from the University of Queensland.

Previous research on the role of NAAM chemicals and antibiotic resistance has