Minnesota bans triclosan; cites health and environmental risks


Photo by Lucille Pine; Flickr
Photo by Lucille Pine; Flickr

Minnesota has recently become the first state in the nation to ban triclosan, a chemical compound with antibacterial properties that is used in a wide range of products. The ban will be implemented in 2017 in order to give producers time to phase out the compound.

The ban is in response to several studies suggesting that triclosan may have harmful effects on human health. It has been linked to increased occurrence of allergies, endocrine disruption, and impaired muscle contraction.

Although small doses of triclosan should have little to no effect on an individual, consumers are exposed to the compound frequently through common products such as hand sanitizer, soap, toothpaste, and mouthwash. Those with particular genetic variations may also be at higher risk.

Additionally, the cumulative quantities of triclosan that are washed down the drain may have negative environmental consequences. It is toxic to certain species of algae and bacteria, and recent research suggests that it may hinder sewage treatment processes.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not currently consider triclosan to be hazardous, but is currently investigating the compound in light of new research.

 

Iowa hydraulic engineers are helping clean London’s River Thames


IIHR’s London tunnels team: Ali Reza Firoozfar, Andy Craig, David Crawford (Thames Tideway Tunnel), Jacob Odgaard, Bernard Woolfe (Thames Tideway Tunnel), Brandon Barquist, Joss Plant (Thames Tideway Tunnel), Stephen Browne, and Troy Lyons.
IIHR’s London tunnels team: Ali Reza Firoozfar, Andy Craig, David Crawford (Thames Tideway Tunnel), Jacob Odgaard, Bernard Woolfe (Thames Tideway Tunnel), Brandon Barquist, Joss Plant (Thames Tideway Tunnel), Stephen Browne, and Troy Lyons.

London’s River Thames is being flooded with sewer waste, and researchers at the University of Iowa are contributing to the problem’s solution.

Hydraulic engineers at the IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering are building scaled models of the Thames Tideway Tunnel, a 16-mile tunnel running under the Thames that will prevent waste from spilling into the river for at least the next 100 years. The tunnel system will have a massive environmental impact, both for humans and for surrounding wildlife.

London’s current sewer system, built in the mid 1860’s, was an engineering feat of its time, mitigating waste from the city’s two million inhabitants to treatment plants away from the famous River Thames. Yet today, with eight million Londoners inundating the Victorian-era sewer system with 55 million tons of raw sewage last year, the city is planning a new system that will take nine years to construct at a cost of $7 billion – making it the world’s largest wastewater infrastructure project.

The designers of the project have turned to IIHR to construct models needed to test the final designs of the tunnel system. IIHR even developed some of the components used in the final design, like a drop shaft that allows water to spiral from street level to the tunnel.

IIHR engineers have extensive experience with deep tunnel systems around the country and around the world. For more information about IIHR’s contribution to the Thames Tideway Tunnel, visit iihr.uiowa.edu.

Sewage flows into Cedar, Mississippi rivers


Cedar River. Photo by Rachel Dale, Flickr.

Clinton and Cedar Falls both accidentally discharged waste into nearby rivers yesterday.

The Quad-City Times reports:

The city of Clinton has discharged about 100,000 gallons of untreated wastewater into the Mississippi River.

The state Department of Natural Resources told KCRG-TV that the city discharged the sewage while repairs were made Friday to a 65-foot section of pipe. Continue reading