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Battling dandruff is enormously unpleasant, but it turns out the remedy for an itchy, flaky scalp is far more damaging than the presence of snow drifts on your shoulder. A recent study in the journal, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry studied the effects of a climbazole, a fungicide found in anti-dandruff shampoo. The researchers found that the chemical killed or stunted the growth of algae and aquatic plants once it reached waterways, disrupting ecosystems.

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Climbazole is a C14-demethylase inhibitor, meaning that it is very effective at killing fungi. Unfortunately, it is also good at killing other organisms, and was shown to retard the development or outright kill plants and algae at concentrations as low as 0.5 micrograms per liter.

The fungicide is just one of a huge number of chemicals that reach wastewater treatment plants and released virtually unaltered into the environment. From antihistamines to caffeine, the world’s aquatic ecosystems are being transformed by human personal care products, medicines, and foods. So, while an itchy scalp may be somewhat embarrassing and uncomfortable, it may be more beneficial to look for homeopathic cure. Vinegar, lemon juice, yogurt, cedarwood, and a regular environmentally-friendly shampoo routine after sweating may all ease the discomfort and save your local watershed a great deal of stress.

[Via Scientific American]