Guo said while it was well-known the overuse and misuse of antibiotics could create 'superbugs', researchers were unaware that other chemicals could also induce antibiotic resistance until now.
"Wastewater from residential areas has similar or even higher levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes compared to hospitals, where you would expect greater antibiotic concentrations," he said.
"These chemicals are used in much larger quantities at an everyday level, so you end up with high residual levels in the wider environment, which can induce multi-drug resistance," he said.
The discovery should be a wake-up call to re-evaluate the potential impact of such chemicals, said Zhiguo Yuan from University of Queensland.
"While the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned the use of triclosan in antibacterial soap, the previous lack of unequivocal evidence prevented such a policy being adopted in other countries," Yuan said.
Antimicrobial resistance has become a major threat to public health globally with about 700,000 people a year dying from superbug infections.
The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance report predicted this will reach 10 million deaths a year by 2050 if no action is taken now.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)