Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists have discovered that exposure to environmental levels of triclocarban (TCC), an antibacterial chemical common in personal care products like soaps and lotions as well as in the medical field, can transfer from mother to offspring and interfere with lipid metabolism.

Ultimately, the findings could have implications for human health. The research appears in the Aug. 9 edition of PLOS ONE.

This study represents the first report to quantify the transfer of an environmentally relevant concentration of TCC from mother to offspring. TCC is among the top 10 most commonly detected wastewater contaminants in concentration and frequency.

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Lipids are naturally occurring molecules that include fats, waxes, fat-soluble vitamins, monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides and others. The main biological function of lipids is storing energy and signaling, and acting as structural components of cell membranes.

“Our results are significant because of the potential risk of exposure to TCC through contaminated water sources and in the living environment, and the potential adverse effects resulting from this exposure during development,” said LLNL biologist Heather Enright, the lead author of the paper. “Early life exposure to TCC has the potential to cause irreversible outcomes due to the fragile nature of organ systems and protective mechanisms in developing offspring.”