Preserving the Environment

This State Banned a Very Common Ingredient Hiding in Your Soap

May 22, 2014
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This State Banned a Very Common Ingredient Hiding in Your Soap
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You might be saying goodbye to those bottles of hand sanitizer, too.

Everyone in Minnesota who insists on scrubbing their hands with certain anti-bacterial products might want to run to their nearest drug store to stock up.

As the Associated Press reports, Governor Mark Dayton recently signed a bill making Minnesota the first state to prohibit the use of a very common chemical ingredient that’s found 75 percent of antibacterial soaps and body washes: Triclosan.

So what’s the fuss with this funny-sounding chemical? Well, for starters, it’s been linked to a whole slew of health and environmental impacts.

Laboratory studies found that this common household ingredient (which is also found in some hand sanitizers, dish soaps, laundry detergents, toothpastes and even pacifiers) could disrupt the function of certain hormones that are necessary for proper reproductive and brain development.

MORE: How States Are Hunting Down This Cosmetic Culprit of Pollution

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing health issues facing the country. According to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), “infections caused by bacteria with resistance to at least one antibiotic have been estimated to kill more than 60,000 hospitalized patients each year.”

If that’s not enough for you to become anti- anti-bacterial, the NDRC says that approximately three-quarters of Americans ages six to 65 have triclosan in their urine. So besides being washed off our bodies and down the drain, the stuff is also being flushed into our waterways — polluting oceans, rivers, and lakes, and harming aquatic life.

Minnesota’s ban will go into effect on January 1, 2017, which means state residents have a few years to stockpile hand sanitizer.

ALSO: Now Banned in Hawaii: Plastic Bags

That is, unless other states and soap-makers follow Minnesota’s lead. One of the bill’s lead sponsors, state Senator John Marty, told the AP, “While this is an effort to ban triclosan from one of the 50 states, I think it will have a greater impact than that.” He added that other states and the Federal government are likely to act, plus some manufacturers are already phasing out triclosan.

There are, of course, several anti-regulators who are opposed to the ban. Not to mention that, because of sanitation reasons, trilosan is a necessary ingredient for surgeons and other hospital workers.

Despite this, conventional wisdom (and the FDA) says that there’s really nothing better than properly washing up with good ol’ soap and water. Which, to us, sounds like a small price to pay for our health and the health of the planet.

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