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Occurrence and potential risk of triclosan in freshwaters of São Paulo, Brazil—the need for regulatory actions

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Triclosan (TCS) is a broad-spectrum bactericide, highly toxic to algae, which is released into the environment via wastewater effluents. Predicted no-effect concentrations (PNECs) for aquatic biota have been proposed in the literature, varying from 1.4 to 1,550 ng/L, reflecting contradicting protection goals. In this work, six rivers in the state of São Paulo were monitored for TCS and caffeine, a tracer for untreated sewage disposal, over a period of more than 1 year. From 71 samples analyzed, 32 contained TCS at concentrations above the limit of quantification, ranging from 2.2 to 66 ng/L, corresponding to a frequency of exceedance of the lowest PNEC of 86 % (six out of seven sites). No correlation between TCS and caffeine was observed, and one of the reasons for that could be the different use patterns in the local populations. Given the high values found in the investigated rivers, TCS seems to be a strong candidate in the priority list of compounds that should be regulated in Brazil to preserve the aquatic environment.

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The authors acknowledge FAPESP (2012/00303-0) and INCTAA (CNPq 573894/2008-6, FAPESP 2008/57808-1) for research funding and thank Martin Kraus for discussion of an earlier version of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Cassiana C. Montagner.

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Responsible editor: Leif Kronberg

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Montagner, C.C., Jardim, W.F., Von der Ohe, P.C. et al. Occurrence and potential risk of triclosan in freshwaters of São Paulo, Brazil—the need for regulatory actions. Environ Sci Pollut Res 21, 1850–1858 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-013-2063-5

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  • Triclosan
  • Caffeine
  • Emerging compounds
  • Protection of aquatic life
  • Surface waters