River export of triclosan from land to sea: A global modelling approach

Jikke van Wijnen*, Ad M.J. Ragas, Carolien Kroeze

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Triclosan (TCS) is an antibacterial agent that is added to commonly used personal care products. Emitted to the aquatic environment in large quantities, it poses a potential threat to aquatic organisms. Triclosan enters the aquatic environment mainly through sewage effluent. We developed a global, spatially explicit model, the Global TCS model, to simulate triclosan transport by rivers to coastal areas. With this model we analysed annual, basin-wide triclosan export for the year 2000 and two future scenarios for the year 2050. Our analyses for 2000 indicate that triclosan export to coastal areas in Western Europe, Southeast Asia and the East Coast of the USA is higher than in the rest of the world. For future scenarios, the Global TCS model predicts an increase in river export of triclosan in Southeast Asia and a small decrease in Europe. The number of rivers with an annual average triclosan concentration at the river mouth that exceeds a PNEC of 26.2. ng/L is projected to double between 2000 and 2050. This increase is most prominent in Southeast Asia, as a result of fast population growth, increasing urbanisation and increasing numbers of people connected to sewerage systems with poor wastewater treatment. Predicted triclosan loads correspond reasonably well with measured values. However, basin-specific predictions have considerable uncertainty due to lacking knowledge and location-specific data on the processes determining the fate of triclosan in river water, e.g. sorption, degradation and sedimentation. Additional research on the fate of triclosan in river systems is therefore recommended. Capsule: We developed a global spatially explicit model to simulate triclosan export by rivers to coastal seas. For two future scenarios this Global TCS model projects an increase in river export of triclosan to several seas around the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1280-1288
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date25 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2018


  • Coastal areas
  • Future scenarios
  • Global TCS model
  • River pollution
  • Triclosan


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