Minnesota poised to be 1st state to ban soap chemical triclosan

The chemical in hand soap hurts Minnesota waterways
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Minnesota appears likely to become the first state to ban triclosan, a chemical commonly found in hand soaps that scientists say hurts waterways.

The DFL-controlled House and Senate have voted to phase out triclosan in consumer hand soaps and body washes by January 2017. The House gave final approval to the measure Wednesday 110-19, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. It passed unanimously Tuesday in the Senate and now heads to Gov. Dayton, who is expected to sign it.

Triclosan is an endocrine-disrupting compound believed to contribute to antibiotic resistance, and it causes other health and environmental problems, state health officers have said.

Minnesota researchers are concerned that triclosan is washing down drains and ending up on Minnesota's freshwater lake and river bottoms, where it turns toxic.

Scientists in the state examined sediment in eight lakes and rivers used by municipal wastewater treatment plants, and they found triclosan and the toxins it forms have been increasing since the 1960s, when the product was first used in Dial soap.

Triclosan research by scientists has been ongoing. But the latest study by researchers at the University of Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota indicates how pervasive the contaminant has become, the university said in a press release. The full research was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

Last year, Dayton ordered state agencies to stop purchasing soaps and cleaners that contain triclosan.

Triclosan-free products are readily available in many stores, state environmental officers have noted.

Consumer products companies have argued that triclosan has a long track record of being safe. But under some pressure from environmental groups, companies including Proctor and Gamble have agreed to phase out triclosan in its products.

The phase-out aspect of the Minnesota legislation was partly an effort to accommodate Ecolab, which manufactures commercial cleaners and hygiene products, MPR reports. The Minnesota-based company opposed the legislation.

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce also opposed the ban, noting that the chamber believes specific product bans should be handled at the federal level, MPR notes.

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