Minnesota becoming first state to ban common germ-killer triclosan in soap

FILE - This Tuesday, April 30, 2013, file photo shows the label of a bottle of antibacterial soap in a kitchen in Chicago. Minnesota's first-in-the nation ban on soaps containing the once ubiquitous germ-killer triclosan takes effect Jan. 1, 2017, but the people who spearheaded the law say it's already having its desired effect across the country. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

Minnesota’s first-in-the nation ban on soaps containing the once ubiquitous germ-killer triclosan takes effect Jan. 1, but the people who spearheaded the law say it’s already having its desired effect on a national level.

The federal government also called for a ban in September of this year, which will take effect in September 2017. Major manufacturers have largely phased out the chemical already, with some products being marketed as triclosan-free. It’s an example, say some, of how changes can start at a local level.

“I wanted it to change the national situation with triclosan and it certainly has contributed to that,” said state Sen. John Marty, an author of Minnesota’s ban.

Triclosan once was widely used in anti-bacterial soaps, deodorants and even toothpaste. But studies began to show it could disrupt sex and thyroid hormones and other bodily functions, and scientists were concerned routine use could contribute to the development of resistant bacteria. University of Minnesota research found that triclosan can break down into potentially harmful dioxins in lakes and rivers.

The group Friends of the Mississippi River and its allies in the state government, including Marty, persuaded Gov. Mark Dayton to sign a ban in 2014 that gave the industry until Jan. 1, 2017, to comply.

In September, when the FDA announced their soon-to-be instituted national ban of triclosan and a list of other anti-bacterial chemicals used in hand and bodywash products, they issued a press statement that said, “Antibacterial hand and body wash manufacturers did not provide the necessary data to establish safety and effectiveness for the 19 active ingredients addressed in this final rulemaking.”

Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the statement, “Consumers may think antibacterial washes are more effective at preventing the spread of germs, but we have no scientific evidence that they are any better than plain soap and water.”

In fact, she added, “Some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients may do more harm than good over the long-term.”

However, the FDA allowed the continued use of triclosan in some products, such as Colgate Total toothpaste, saying it’s effective at preventing gingivitis.

John Marty and Trevor Russell, the water program director for Friends of the Mississippi River, acknowledged they can’t take direct credit for the FDA’s action because that rulemaking process began in 1978, though it didn’t finalize the rule until after a legal battle with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

However, they believe their efforts helped prod manufacturers to accelerate a phase-out that some companies such as Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson had already begun.

Most major brands are now reformulated, said Brian Sansoni, spokesman for the American Cleaning Institute, a lobbying group. Soaps containing triclosan on store shelves are likely stocks that retailers are just using up, he said.

Russell noted he recently found Dial liquid anti-bacterial hand soap at two local Wal-Marts, two supermarkets and a Walgreens.

The industry is now submitting data to the FDA on the safety and effectiveness of the three main replacements, benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol.

“Consumers can continue to use these products with confidence, like they always have,” Sansoni said.

By going first, Russell said, Minnesota can identify any issues with implementing the ban and share them with the rest of the country.


Minnesota Beats Rest of Country in Banning Germ-Killer

On Jan. 1, 2017, a Minnesota triclosan ban takes effect. The state will become the first in the country to prohibit the sale and production of the ubiquitous antibacterial agent for use in soaps and other similar products germ-killing products.

According to KSTP, officials in Minnesota passed a controversial law that requires manufacturers to phase out their current inventory of germ-fighting agents at the beginning of the year. Major producers of triclosan-free products have already begun reducing their current inventory levels in stores.

Minnesota state senator John Marty is an author of the Minnesota ban. He shared some insight into the upcoming law.

“I wanted it to change the national situation with triclosan and it certainly has contributed to that.”
Triclosan is well-known additive in some deodorants, toothpaste, and antibacterial soaps. Critics of antiseptic agents point to studies that suggest triclosan disrupts the normal function of the thyroid and hormonal processes in humans.

According to University of Minnesota research project, triclosan can degrade and possibly leach into public water supplies, riverbeds, tributaries, and lakes. Friends of the Mississippi River, a local watchdog group, which includes the author of the study, banned with Minnesota’s governor two years ago to put pressure on the industry for a total ban by January 1, 2017.

Just in September, the Food and Drug Administration (or FDA), instituted its ban on triclosan along with 18 other antibacterial products around the country. Officials say the ban was put in place because producers did not have the requisite documentation to prove that triclosan and similar substances were safe for human use, according to CBS Local.

Still, the FDA allows triclosan in limited products such as Colgate Toothpaste. Supposedly, research suggests the product is scientifically effective in preventing and treating gingivitis, the gum disease.

Proponents of triclosan say that it is safe for use by humans As a result of the triclosan ban, manufacturers are submitting documentation to the FDA for three alternatives: it’s benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, and chloroxylenol.

Some consumers are reporting seeing triclosan-based products in stores. Brian Sansoni works with the American Cleaning Institute he said the triclosan products still on store shelves are likely sell-through.

“Consumers can continue to use these products with confidence like they always have.”
The FDA is still conducting research into the full impact on humans but has banned the substance out of an abundance of caution. On its website, it explains the potential for triclosan to impair health.

“Some short-term animal studies have shown that exposure to high doses of triclosan is associated with a decrease in the levels of some thyroid hormones. But we don’t know the significance of those findings to human health. Other studies have raised the possibility that exposure to triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. At this time, we don’t have enough information available to assess the level of risk that triclosan poses for the development of antibiotic resistance.”
There are several studies that have caused regulators to worry about the safety of triclosan. One study underway is looking at even more potential harmful effects such as the relationship with some forms of skin cancer and triclosan use over a long period of time.

Another study is probing into the possibility that the antibacterial agent is susceptible to breaking down after exposure to ultraviolet light. The fear is a risk that the substance can change chemically and become a health hazard.

Stay tuned for developments in the Minnesota triclosan ban.


Minnesota Beats Rest of Country in Banning Germ-Killer

Minnesota's first-in-the nation ban on soaps containing the once ubiquitous germ-killer triclosan takes effect Jan. 1, but the people who spearheaded the law say it's already having its desired effect on a national level.

The federal government caught up to Minnesota's 2014 decision with its own ban that takes effect in September 2017. Major manufacturers have largely phased out the chemical already, with some products being marketed as triclosan-free. And it's an example of how changes can start at a local level.

"I wanted it to change the national situation with triclosan and it certainly has contributed to that," said state Sen. John Marty, an author of Minnesota's ban.

Triclosan once was widely used in anti-bacterial soaps, deodorants and even toothpaste. But studies began to show it could disrupt sex and thyroid hormones and other bodily functions, and scientists were concerned routine use could contribute to the development of resistant bacteria. And University of Minnesota research found that triclosan can break down into potentially harmful dioxins in lakes and rivers.

The group Friends of the Mississippi River and its allies in the Legislature, including Marty, got Gov. Mark Dayton to sign a ban in 2014 that gave the industry until Jan. 1, 2017, to comply.

In September, the FDA banned triclosan along with 18 other anti-bacterial chemicals from soaps nationwide, saying manufacturers had failed to show they were safe or more effective at killing germs than plain soap and water. However, the FDA allowed the use of some triclosan products such as Colgate Total toothpaste, saying it's effective at preventing gingivitis.

Marty and Trevor Russell, the water program director for Friends of the Mississippi River, acknowledged they can't take direct credit for the FDA's action because that rulemaking process began in 1978, though it didn't finalize the rule until after a legal battle with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

However, the Minnesota men hope their efforts helped turn opinions against the chemical and are confident the state's ban helped prod manufacturers to accelerate a phase-out that some companies such as Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson had already begun.

Most major brands are now reformulated, said Brian Sansoni, spokesman for the American Cleaning Institute, a lobbying group. Soaps containing triclosan on store shelves are likely stocks that retailers are just using up, he said.

Russell noted he recently found Dial liquid anti-bacterial hand soap at two local Wal-Marts, two supermarkets and a Walgreens.

The industry is now submitting data to the FDA on the safety and effectiveness of the three main replacements, benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride and chloroxylenol.

"Consumers can continue to use these products with confidence, like they always have," Sansoni said.

By going first, Russell said, Minnesota can identify any issues with implementing the ban and share it with the rest of the country.

The Minnesota Department of Health will remind consumers and businesses of the ban's start.

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