Chemical widely used in antibacterial hand soaps may impair muscle function


Here’s the release from the University of California Davis:

Triclosan, an antibacterial chemical widely used in hand soaps and other personal-care products, hinders muscle contractions at a cellular level, slows swimming in fish and reduces muscular strength in mice, according to researchers at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Colorado. The findings appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

“Triclosan is found in virtually everyone’s home and is pervasive in the environment,” said Isaac Pessah, professor and chair of the Department of Molecular Biosciences in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and principal investigator of the study. “These findings provide strong evidence that the chemical is of concern to both human and environmental health.”

Triclosan is commonly found in antibacterial personal-care products such as hand soaps as well as deodorants, mouthwashes, toothpaste, bedding, clothes, carpets, toys and trash bags. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1998 estimated that more than 1 million pounds of triclosan are produced annually in the United States, and that the chemical is detectable in waterways and aquatic organisms ranging from algae to fish to dolphins, as well as in human urine, blood and breast milk.

The investigators performed several experiments to evaluate the effects of triclosan on muscle activity, using doses similar to those that people and animals may be exposed to during everyday life.

In “test tube” experiments, triclosan impaired the ability of isolated heart muscle cells and skeletal muscle fibers to contract. Specifically, the team evaluated the effects of triclosan on molecular channels in muscle cells that control the flow of calcium ions, creating muscle contractions. Normally, electrical stimulation (“excitation”) of isolated muscle fibers under experimental conditions evokes a muscle contraction, a phenomenon known as “excitation-contraction coupling,” the fundamental basis of any muscle movement, including heartbeats. But in the presence of triclosan, the normal communication between two proteins that function as calcium channels was impaired, causing skeletal and cardiac muscle failure.

The team also found that triclosan impairs heart and skeletal muscle contractility in living animals. Anesthetized mice had up to a 25-percent reduction in heart function measures within 20 minutes of exposure to the chemical.

“The effects of triclosan on cardiac function were really dramatic,” said Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, professor of cardiovascular medicine at UC Davis and a study co-author. “Although triclosan is not regulated as a drug, this compound acts like a potent cardiac depressant in our models.”

In addition, the mice had an 18-percent reduction in grip strength for up to 60 minutes after being given a single dose of triclosan. Grip strength is a widely used measure of mouse limb strength, employed to investigate the effects of drugs and neuromuscular disorders.

Finally, the investigators looked at the effects of triclosan exposure on fathead minnows, a small fish commonly used as a model organism for studying the potential impacts of aquatic pollutants. Those exposed to triclosan in the water for seven days had significantly reduced swimming activity compared to controls during both normal swimming and swim tests designed to imitate fish being threatened by a predator.

“We were surprised by the large degree to which muscle activity was impaired in very different organisms and in both cardiac and skeletal muscle,” said Bruce Hammock, a study co-author and professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology. “You can imagine in animals that depend so totally on muscle activity that even a 10-percent reduction in ability can make a real difference in their survival.”

The UC Davis research team has previously linked triclosan to other potentially harmful health effects, including disruption of reproductive hormone activity and of cell signaling in the brain.

Chiamvimonvat cautioned that translating results from animal models to humans is a large step and would require further study. However, the fact that the effects were so striking in several animal models under different experimental conditions provides strong evidence that triclosan could have effects on animal and human health at current levels of exposure.

“In patients with underlying heart failure, triclosan could have significant effects because it is so widely used,” Chiamvimonvat said. “However, without additional studies, it would be difficult for a physician to distinguish between natural disease progression and an environmental factor such as triclosan.”

Pessah questioned arguments that triclosan — introduced more than 40 years ago — is safe partly because it binds to blood proteins, making it not biologically available. Although triclosan may bind to proteins in the blood, that may not necessarily make the chemical inactive, he said, and actually may facilitate its transport to critical organs. In addition, some of the current experiments were carried out in the presence of blood proteins, and disrupted muscle activity still occurred.

Although triclosan was first developed to prevent bacterial infections in hospitals, its use has become widespread in antibacterial products used in the home. However, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, other than its use in some toothpastes to prevent gingivitis, there is no evidence that triclosan provides other health benefits or that antibacterial soaps and body washes are more effective than regular soap and water. Experts also express concern about the possibility of resistant bacterial strains developing with the overuse of antibacterial products.

Because the chemical structure of triclosan resembles other toxic chemicals that persist in the environment, the FDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are conducting new risk assessments of the chemical. Based on their study outcomes, the researchers argue that the potential health risks call for greater restrictions.

“We have shown that triclosan potently impairs muscle functions by interfering with signaling between two proteins that are of fundamental importance to life,” said Pessah. “Regulatory agencies should definitely be reconsidering whether it should be allowed in consumer products.”

Said Hammock: “Triclosan can be useful in some instances, however it has become a ubiquitous ‘value added’ marketing factor that actually could be more harmful than helpful. At the very least, our findings call for a dramatic reduction in its use.”

A copy of the study, titled “Triclosan impairs excitation-contraction coupling and Ca2+ dynamics in striated muscle,” can be requested by e-mailing

Other authors of the study were Gennady Cherednichenko, Rui Zhang, Erika Fritsch, Wei Feng and Genaro Barrientos of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine; Roger Bannister and Kurt Beam of the University of Colorado Denver-Anschutz Medical Campus; Valeriy Timofeyev and Ning Li of the UC Davis Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; and Nils Schebb of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.

Cache la Poudre River: Drought and wildfire have big impact on the rafting season #CODrought


From NPR (Kirk Siegler):

The rafting and guiding company Rocky Mountain Adventures is based two hours north of Colorado Springs. Owner Ryan Barwick had to suspend rafting trips on the nearby Poudre River during the peak season in June, when the High Park Fire blackened more than 135 square miles in the region.

“A lot of us do live paycheck to paycheck,” Barwick says. “And you know, when you’re shut down for three weeks, you’re a small business — we don’t have that cushion to fall back on.”

Even before the fire, Barwick says it was hard enough to sell whitewater trips, given the ongoing drought. But it’s even harder now, he says, with the river a trickle of black sediment running off the canyons above.

“We’ve had rock slides, we’ve had mudslides, we’ve had black water — I mean, you name it, we’ve encountered it this year,” he says. “It’s pretty much every headwind that you fear at the beginning of each season, compiled all into one season.”

From the Vail Business Journal (Bob Berwyn):

Colorado’s drought delivered a costly punch to July’s bottom line, according to the monthly Goss Report released on Tuesday. July’s overall index for the state slumped nine points from June. The drop from 58.6 to 49.6 puts Colorado’s Business Conditions Index (the same as the overall index) slightly below the 50-point growth neutral. Components of Colorado’s index for July were new orders at 51.0, production or sales at 53.5, delivery lead time at 43.3, inventories at 55.4, and employment at 59.0.

Colorado River District Annual Seminar ‘Past, Present and Future’ September 13


From email from the Colorado River District (Jim Pokrandt):

“Past, Present and Future” is the theme of the Colorado River District’s Annual Water Seminar set for 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, at the Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction, Colo. The cost to attend is $25 and includes morning coffee, pastries and a lunch.

Anne Castle, Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, Department of the Interior, is the keynote speaker. Seminar topics start with the 75-year history of the Colorado River District and a new book on the organization by author George Sibley, “Water Wranglers.” Other topics to be covered during the day are the drought, the Bureau of Reclamation/7 States Colorado River Basin Study results and a look at the November elections. A full agenda, press release and registration form is attached.

After the seminar, starting at 4 p.m., the Colorado River District is holding an Ice Cream Social and Open House at the Two Rivers Convention Center to celebrate its 75th Anniversary.

Here’s the link to the registration form.

‘…you cannot do that [develop oil and gas resources] without fracking’ — Matt Lepore (COGCC)


Here’s an interview with the new head of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Matt Lepore, from KUNC (Bente Birkeland). Here’s an excerpt:

The agency that regulates oil and gas development in the state has hired a new director. Matt Lepore is the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s former attorney and takes the helm today, during what many see as a tumultuous time for the industry.

“I think the state should develop its oil and gas resources including its shale gas and shale oil resources and you cannot do that without fracking”

Here’s a link to a brochure from the National Groundwater Association that details precautions that water well owners can take if oil and gas operations crop up nearby.

Household water well owners near oil and gas development and completion activities, including hydraulic fracturing, can get guidance about water testing from a new brochure produced by the National Ground Water Association and the Ground Water Protection Council.

The brochure can be downloaded from the “Water Quality” section of NGWA’s Web site or GWPC’s Web site.

“This brochure provides simple, clear guidance to well owners. That’s what many well owners say they want,” said NGWA Public Awareness Director Cliff Treyens. “By also making the brochure available to state agencies and other groups, NGWA and GWPC can get this information to a wide audience of private well owners in oil- and gas-producing states.”

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

New public hearing for the proposed Piñon Ridge uranium mill


From the Telluride Watch (Gus Jarvis):

In a ruling issued June 13, Judge John McMullen ruled the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s initial issuance of the radioactive materials license was unlawful because a formal, adjudicatory hearing was not properly provided. McMullen ordered a new hearing, which will begin on Oct. 15. At that time exhibits will be offered for admission and written testimony will be filed in order to provide an opportunity for parties to cross-examine expert witnesses.

Public comment will not be received at the Oct. 15 hearing, but the hearing officer will determine when public comment will be received when the hearing is reconvened on Nov. 7, in Nucla.

Energy Fuels spokesman Curtis Moore said the upcoming public hearing will be different from the public-comment setting of the previous hearing in that it will be more like a trial.

More nuclear coverage here and here.

50th anniversary celebration of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project Saturday at Lake Pueblo


The project got its start with a visit to Pueblo from President Kennedy back in 1962. Here’s the first installment from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. Click through and read the whole article, Woodka is a terrific writer. Here’s an excerpt:

But on that day [August 17, 1962], work began to address the problem. Kennedy came to Pueblo to celebrate the signing of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Act the previous day. Local water leaders will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Fry-Ark Project Saturday at Lake Pueblo…

The Twin Lakes Tunnel was constructed by the Colorado Canal Co. during the Great Depression, while the old Carlton railroad tunnel was used by the High Line Canal Co. to bring in water. In addition, Colorado Springs and Aurora were already building the Homestake Project, which would be intertwined with the Fry-Ark Project as both were built.

But the government project, a scaled-down version of an earlier, larger plan to bring water from the Gunnison River basin, represented a larger cooperative effort between farmers and municipal leaders in nine counties.

Since the first water was brought over in 1972, about 2.1 million acre-feet of water has been brought into the Arkansas River basin for irrigation and municipal use. The project also generates electric power at the Mount Elbert Power Plant.


Woodka details some of the early water history along the Arkansas River mainstem in this report running in today’s Chieftain. Here’s an excerpt:

The Water Development Association of Southeastern Colorado was incorporated in 1946. Pueblo business leaders worked with valley water interests to investigate a Gunnison-Arkansas Project. By 1953, the project was scaled back to the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, and the first hearings began in Congress.

During the congressional hearings in subsequent years, the project evolved from one primarily serving agriculture to one that included municipal, hydroelectric power, flood control and recreation as well.

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District formed in 1958.

The U.S. House passed the Fry-Ark Act on June 13, 1962; the U.S. Senate, Aug. 6, 1962. President John F. Kennedy signed it into law on Aug. 16, 1962.

Here’s a short look at Jay Winner, current general manager of the Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District, from Chris Woodka Writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Back in the 1960s, his father Ralph Winner was the construction superintendent for Ruedi Reservoir, the first part of the Fry-Ark Project to be constructed and his family lived on the job site. His father came back in the late 1970s to supervise construction of one of the last parts of the collection system to be built, the Carter-Norman siphon. The siphon draws water across a steep canyon.

For three summers, Winner, then a college student, worked on the latter project. “It was the most fun I ever had,” he laughed. “I got to play with dynamite.”

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A retired outfitter, [Reed Dils] is now a Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board member and a former representative from the Arkansas River basin on the Colorado Water Conservation Board. “Initially, the flows got worse,” Dils said. “They (the Southeastern district and the Bureau of Reclamation) had chosen to run water in the winter…

“It became apparent to everyone there was another way to run the river,” Dils said. “Why the Fry-Ark act was passed, recreation mainly meant flatwater recreation. Over time, they learned there are other types of recreation.”

Here’s the release from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

Reclamation and the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District invite the public to celebrate the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project’s 50th Anniversary at Lake Pueblo State Park on Sat., Aug. 18. The event is located at Lake Pueblo State Park Visitor’s Center from 9 2 p.m.

Reclamation, the District and Colorado State Parks and Wildlife are offering free pontoon boat tours around Pueblo Reservoir and free tours of the fish hatchery located below Pueblo Dam. There will also be historical displays and several guest speakers.

Signed into law by President John F. Kennedy in 1962, the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project is a multipurpose trans-basin water diversion and delivery project serving southeastern Colorado.

The Fryingpan-Arkansas Project provides:

– Water for more than 720,000 people
– Irrigation for 265,000 acres
– The largest hydro-electric power plant in the state
– World renowned recreation opportunities from the Fryingpan River to the Arkansas River.

For more information the 50th Anniversary Celebration – and to see a teaser of the upcoming film! – visit our website at

More Fryingpan-Arkansas Project coverage here and here.


Meanwhile, Alan Hamel is retiring from the Pueblo Board of Water Works this month:

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“Little did I know how important the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project would be as I was watching the president’s car traveling down Abriendo Avenue that day,” Hamel said. “Look at all that it has done for our basin and what it will do in the future.”

Hamel became executive director of the water board in 1982, and was president of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, the local agency that oversees the Fry-Ark Project, from 2002-04. He is currently serving on the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

More Pueblo Board of Water Works coverage here.

NISP: ‘…from 2009 to 2011, more than 1 million acre-feet of water left the state’ — Hank Brown


Here’s a guest column arguing the necessity of the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) to keep Front Range cities from drying up more irrigated agricultural land, written by Hank Brown, running in The Denver Post. Here’s an excerpt:

Taking water used by agriculture for new homes involves drying up thousands of acres of our most productive irrigated farms. The result will be higher temperatures in the summer, more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, and the loss of food and fiber production in Colorado.

What is the answer? The Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) is being proposed by northern Colorado cities and water districts to save for Colorado thousands of acre-feet of water that is now being lost to Nebraska. The water belongs to Colorado under the federally recognized interstate compact, yet from 2009 to 2011, more than 1 million acre-feet of water left the state — water the state had rights to use.

What will the project do for our environment? It will improve minimum stream flow, protect against flood and drought, and help prevent the drying up of our farm land. Without NISP, environmental studies estimate that an additional 100 square miles of northern Colorado farmland will be dried up.

More Northern Integrated Supply Project coverage here and here.