It's widely used nationwide as a germ-killing ingredient in soaps, deodorants, and even toothpaste, but just months after the FDA warned that triclosan may be harmful, Minnesota is now becoming the first state to ban it. The bill Gov. Mark Dayton signed Friday prohibits the use of triclosan in most retail consumer hygiene products, and would take effect Jan. 1, 2017. One of its lead sponsors, state Sen. John Marty, predicts that most manufacturers will phase out triclosan by then anyway. "While this is an effort to ban triclosan from one of the 50 states, I think it will have a greater impact than that," Marty says, noting that Procter & Gamble's Crest toothpaste is now marketing itself as triclosan-free.
While triclosan hasn't been shown to be hazardous to humans, studies have raised concerns that it can disrupt hormones critical for reproduction and development, at least in lab animals, and contribute to the development of resistant bacteria. Critics including the FDA say there's no evidence that triclosan soaps are any more effective than washing with plain soap and water. A University of Minnesota study published last year found increasing levels of triclosan in the sediments of several lakes, and that the chemical can break down in those waters into potentially harmful dioxins. Two months later, Dayton ordered all state agencies to stop buying hand soaps and dish and laundry cleaners containing triclosan. (Click for more on why you should give up hand sanitizer containing triclosan.)