A Minnesota first you might have missed


With all of the news about Minnesota’s minimum wage, women’s economic security act, safe schools legislation and a billion dollar bonding bill, you might have missed the history-making legislation that also passed this year.

Minnesota became the first state to ban the use of Triclosan in most consumer products. It’s an anti-bacterial agent commonly found in hand sanitizer, toothpaste, and other health and cosmetic products. Studies indicate that the chemical “alters hormone regulation in animals, might contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant germs, [and] might be harmful to the immune system,” according to a Mayo Clinic fact sheet.

Absorbed into the skin, triclosan has been found in the urine of nearly 75 percent of those tested, according to a 2008 study.

However, both Mayo and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) say there’s not “enough evidence to recommend avoiding use of products that contain triclosan.” The EPA is conducting a further study into the chemical’s safety. Ban proponents argue the agency is slow in responding to a widening body of evidence pointing to triclosan’s harm.

In addition to human health, there’s a concern for aquatic life, as potentially half of the triclosan we wash down the drain isn’t filtered out by sewage treatment systems and winds up in waterways. (A better treatment systems can catch up to 99% of triclosan.)

Since studies show that triclosan isn’t an essential ingredient in many of the products containing it, it seemed like a good idea for Minnesota to take a proactive step in banning it. The original Minnesota legislation banned the chemical in a much wider range of products, but according to Whitney Clark at the Friends of the Mississippi, lobbying pressure from large commercial users led to a narrower ban focused on consumers. (Also, think about whose name is on top of a certain St. Paul tower.)

It’s also a step leading health care product manufacture Johnson & Johnson is taking on its own, having already removed triclosan from baby products, with the intention of removing it from adult products in the future.

This business and legislative action follows the University of Minnesota’s mission to advance green chemistry research, so that industry has a partner in delivering consumers fewer and fewer household products that could harm or potentially kill them.

So, incase you hadn’t heard the news, now you have. And it’s just one more reason to be proud of what progressive majorities in the 2013-14 legislature have accomplished.