Minnesota Bans Antibacterial Soap Due To Health And Environmental Concerns

Minnesota didn't want to wait for the FDA or EPA to ban antibacterial soaps.

Minnesota has banned antibacterial soaps amid health and environmental concerns. That’s bad news for the triclosan industry, but according to the FDA, the use of the antibacterial agent triclosan does not kill more germs than regular hand-washing. In December, the FDA ruled that antibacterial soap manufacturers, given recent findings that triclosan may be unsafe, would have to prove that their antibacterial soaps are safe – and more effective than plain soap and water – if they planned to continue the use of the chemical in the future.

The AP reports that Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill this month to make Minnesota the first state to prohibit the use of triclosan in most retail hygiene products, including antibacterial soaps. Sen. John Marty, one of the bill’s main sponsors, said that it is likely that manufacturers will begin phasing triclosan out of antibacterial soaps anyway. Minnesota lawmakers will not implement the ban immediately, but are hopeful the law sends an important message. The law takes effect Jan. 1, 2017.

The FDA estimates that the antibacterial agent can be found in 75 percent of antibacterial liquid soaps and body washes. It is commonly found in toothpastes, though Crest toothpaste is now marketing itself as triclosan-free, and the agency questions the safety of the chemical. Issues that have raised concern about antibacterial soaps include its role in the development of super-bugs, environmental concerns, and human exposure risks. Inquisitr reported,According to ScienceNews, “Microbiologist Blaise Boles, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues swabbed the noses of 90 adults and found that having triclosan-containing snot could double a person’s likelihood of carrying staph. The microbes may have adapted to triclosan, allowing them to remain steadfast in the nose.”

Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicated that the chemical in antibacterial soaps hinders muscle contractions at a cellular level for humans and wildlife including fish. Inquisitr reported environmental concerns about the antibacterial agent previously, “Notably, based on monitoring data from the EPA on the environmental and ecological risk, triclosan has been found in approximately 36 tested US streams at a level of concern (LOCs) beyond acceptable for aquatic plants.”

Consumers are becoming steadily more aware of the potential dangers of antibacterial soaps. Freelance writer Meg Koenemann told Inquisitr, “Personally, I have switched my family away from antibacterial soap — in our home — but if we’re away from home, I would rather we wash our hand with some kind of soap than not at all.” Though some Americans are concerned enough with antibacterial soaps that they refuse to use them at all.

Magen LaFave, mother of four, told Inquisitr, “I won’t wash my hands with antibacterial soap. It kills everything on your hands not just the bad germs.” When Inquisitr reported that a KRC research group found that 58 percent witnessed someone else leave a public facility without washing their hands, the general public assumed all 58 percent were being lazy, but some of them may have just been avoiding what they consider a dangerous chemical. LaFave said she carries moist towelettes without the anti-bacterial chemical in her purse for the times when triclosan soaps are the only soaps available in public.

The Minnesota ban has the American Cleaning Institute upset. The trade group had urged Minnesota’s governor to veto the legislation. According to the trade group, antibacterial soaps provide important health benefits. “Instead of letting federal regulators do their jobs, the legislation would take safe, effective and beneficial products off the shelves of Minnesota grocery, convenience and drug stores,” Douglas Troutman, wrote in a letter to Gov. Dayton on behalf of the American Cleaning Institute.

Procter & Gamble states the corporation will finish dropping the antibacterial chemical from its products in 2014. Johnson & Johnson isn’t far behind and promises to drop triclosan from all consumer products by 2015.

Do you support Minnesota’s new ban on antibacterial soaps, or do you think the state should have waited to let regulatory agencies weigh the risks and benefits?