Shampoo Forms Harmful Substance in Waste Water

Beware. Toiletries and other cleaning products contain ingredients that form cancer-causing contaminant in water, a new study has claimed.

Scientists at the Department of Chemical Engineering of Yale University have found that certain ingredients in shampoos, detergent and other household cleaning agents may be a source for formation of suspected cancer-causing contaminant in water that is supplied from sewage treatment plants.

The study sheds new light on possible environmental sources of this poorly understood water contaminant, called NDMA, which is of ongoing concern to health officials, Environmental Science and Technology journal reported.

The team said, scientists have known that NDMA and other nitrosamines can form in small amounts during the disinfection of wastewater and water with chloramine, but while they found nitrosamines in a wide variety of sources like processed meats and tobacco smoke, they did not have any knowledge about their precursors in water.

“Earlier studies with cosmetics have found that substances called quaternary amines, which are also ingredients in household cleaning agents, may play a role in the formation of nitrosamines,” lead author William Mitch said.

The new study showed that when mixed with chloramine, some household cleaning products — including shampoo, dishwashing detergent and laundry detergent – formed NDMA.

It noted that sewage treatment plants may remove some of quaternary amines that form NDMA.

Mitch said, “However, quaternary amines are used in such large quantities that some still may persist and have a potentially harmful effect in the effluents from sewage treatment plants”.

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