Questioning the Impact of Triclosan on Our Future

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Lawrence, Gabriel, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Seabrook, Bryn, EN-Engineering And Scoiety, University of Virginia

This paper focuses on the sociopolitical effects of Triclosan's usage. Triclosan is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial that prevents the growth or kills bacteria commonly used in food storage, cosmetic products, hospitals, industrial processes, and mouthwash and exists in the urine and blood of 75% of people, according to the CDC. Additionally, research has found that Triclosan is associated with hormonal disruption, cancer, antibiotic/antifungal resistance, and environmental degradation. One of the methods for its negative and positive effects is that when it breaks down in organisms or the environment, it forms reactive products that damage genetic material and cellular structures. The core research question of this paper is: "How has Triclosan interacted with the world in its first- and second-order effects and intended and unintended consequences?" Through this question, the paper presents how society evaluates convenience and the long-term outcomes of its decisions. This paper uses a mixture of literature review, analysis, and policy reviews to define its research question within an STS framework. This paper's research uses actor-network theory as a framework, which is a toolbox for analyzing complex systems through material-somatic methods. This paper's research expects to find that Triclosan had and has a long-term negative impact on the environment and public health. The significance of studying Triclosan's consequences in an engineering context is that Triclosan is a case study of the duty of care, handling unexpected consequences, and the impacts of public policy, factors that engineers should consider during product development.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Triclosan, Actor-Network Theory, Duty of Care, STS, Bacterial Resistance, Ethics, Environment
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