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Minnesota leads the way: Clean, safe soaps

Minnesota became the first state in the country to ban the “anti-microbial” pesticide triclosan from antibacterial soaps, toothpastes, deodorants, cosmetics, fabrics and other consumer products.

Announced this month and taking effect in 2017, this ban is great news since triclosan can cause hormone disruption in people — including interfering with thyroid gland function, sperm production in males and immune system health. And its use is unnecessary since using plain soap and water is no less effective in preventing disease. 

Minnesota has long been at the forefront on tackling triclosan. As we mentioned in this blog in March 2013, Minnesota had already banned its state agencies from buying soaps and other products containing triclosan. Seeing the writing on the wall, consumer product companies like Johnson and Johnson as well as Proctor and Gamble started phasing out the pesticide from their products.

One of the lead sponsors of the ban, Minnesota state legislator John Marty notes that more consumer product companies will likely start phasing out triclosan from their products soon, prompted by the strong action taken by the state.

Impactful ban

Banning triclosan will go a long way toward protecting the health of the people of Minnesota, as well as reducing the possibility of bacteria developing resistance to chemicals like triclosan. Widespread use of the pesticide has undermined the effectiveness of antibiotics, as bacteria morph to develop resistance.

This decision by Minnesota will be beneficial for the environment as well. Recent studies of Minnesota’s lakes showed steadily increasing levels of triclosan in lake sediments since the 1970s, when the chemical was first made available for widespread use.

Well, it’s taken over 40 years to start getting good news on triclosan. Thank you for supporting PAN's efforts to press for action on this pesticide, as well as the efforts of allies like Beyond Pesticides. Here’s hoping that the action taken by companies and the path shown by Minnesota helps get this unnecessary product off the market once and for all.


Photo credit: iStock/Vita-lina

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Pesticide Action Network

Pesticide Action Network is dedicated to advancing alternatives to pesticides worldwide. Follow @pesticideaction

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