Mid Brain muses:
Here’s a recent news story from CosmeticsDesign that caught my eye: Pollution from personal care compounds may cause antibiotic resistance.
The article summarizes a study done at universities of Birmingham and Warwick that suggests a link between pollution from sewage sludge, animal disinfectants and fabric softeners, and the rise in bacteria resistance to antibiotics.
Personal care pollution
While the title implicates beauty care products, the article does not link to the original study so it’s difficult to determine exactly what ingredients were discovered. But here’s a quote from the article:
The sludge and slurry contains a cocktail of antibiotic and chemical traces, many of which can be traced back to household products, including a variety of commonly used personal care products, Dr. Glaze stated in his study report.
During the research, the scientific team was able to hone in on the quarternary ammonium compounds (QAC) – collectively known as biocides, which a variety of industries use in large quantities.
Quaternary ammonium compounds are commonly used in products like hair conditioners but these are long chain fatty QACs which have little biocidal acitvity. I’d like to understand the details of this study better before setting off alarms about cosmetic ingredients but at the very least this study suggests that further research is warranted.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
While no single study should be taken as confirmation, we do need to remain alert to the possibility that the ingredients used in cosmetics may have a negative effect on the environment. Contrary to what many people think, scientists are doing research to ensure the products we use are safe for our world.
I like the abbreviation of QAC for quaternium ammonium compounds much better “quats” which is the term cosmetic scientists typically use. I say that we pronounce it “quacks” and try to get it to catch on.