In a couple of years, residents of the North Star State who are in the habit of slathering their hands — or entire bodies — with antibacterial lotions, potions, soaps, and gels are going to have to cross state lines to get their germ-annihilating fix. That is, if the entire nation hasn’t put the kibosh on triclosan, the dubious/ubiquitous antibacterial agent by then, which it very well could.

Citing “health and environmental concerns,” Gov. Mark Dayton signed the triclosan-banning bill into law late last week after it was passed by the Minnesota House and Senate.

Minnesota's triclosan ban, the first of its kind in the US., would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. The bill prohibits the sale of personal care and hygiene products that contain the controversial chemical compound which an estimated 75 percent of soaps and body washes boasting antibacterial properties do, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Triclosan can also be found in everything from toothpaste, deodorant, and, of course, hand sanitizers, along with cleaning products, dish and laundry soaps, and other household staples.

Although not technically considered as “hazardous" to human health, the synthetic chemical, which is widely believed by health officials to be not that much more effective at killing bacteria than regular old (non-antibacterial) soap and water, has been linked in animal studies to hormone disruption and other health-related red flags. In fact, triclosan-containing products, which the American Medical Association advises against using at home, have been shown to encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Triclosan has also been found as a chemical pollutant in lakes, rivers, and other waterways where it's harmful to aquatic life.

And although Minnesota might be the first state to ban triclosan, individual manufacturers have already begun to phase out the chemical on a voluntary basis. As reported by the Associated Press, Procter & Gamble plans to be triclosan-free by the end of this year while Johnson & Johnson is aggressively moving in the same direction. Manufacturers that continue to use triclosan in formulas for antibacterial products will have to “demonstrate that their products are safe for daily use, and more effective than plain soap and water” per an FDA ruling that took effect this past December. If unable to do so, manufacturers most reformulate their products or remove antibacterial claims from product labeling. The FDA is expected to complete a full review of the chemical by 2016.

Naturally, trade organization the American Cleaning Institute is none-too-thrilled by the news out of Minnesota. ACI spokesman Brian Sansoni tells Minneapolis City Pages:

For members of the public who want to choose these products, they should certainly be able to have access to them. This particular chemical has been in use for over 40 years, primarily in health care and then in the consumer space, and it has been safely used. We use it to wash our hands and in other applications too, and it continues to be safely used, and it's been more researched than just about any other ingredient that's used in consumer products.
Very simply put, antibacterial soaps have a germ-killing benefit as compared to non-antibacterial soaps.
Sansoni notes that it’s unclear at this point whether or not manufacturers that still use triclosan at the beginning of 2017 will need to reformulate products for sale in Minnesota or if they’ll be yanked from store shelves altogether in the state.

Even if detractors like the ACI, which urged Gov. Dayton to veto the bill, are deeming the move as premature, Minnesota lawmakers are confident in their decision to lead the anti-antibacterial charge. “While this is an effort to ban triclosan from one of the 50 states, I think it will have a greater impact than that," Sen. John Marty, one of the bill's lead boosters, explains to the AP. 

Any thoughts, Minnesota-based readers? Proud of your state? Or are you a big antibac user?

Via [City Pages], [AP]

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Minnesota becomes first state to outlaw antibacterial products
While the FDA takes its sweet time investigating triclosan, Minnesota goes ahead and bans the controversial, germ-killing chemical.