Minnesota continues to work towards upholding its reputation as one of the healthiest state departments in the United States. Governor Mark Dayton has recently signed a bill that makes it illegal to sell products that contain the potentially harmful chemical triclosan. The law is expected to take effect in January 2017.
Triclosan is found in most antibacterial and cleaning products which include hand soaps and body washes, toothpaste and even some cosmetics.
This ingredient was created in the 1960s and thought to increase sanitation. Now over four decades later, the Food and Drug Administration states that there is no clear evidence of triclosan containing products to be more effective in killing germs than basic soap and water.
Triclosan was found in the urine of 75 percent of people who were tested for it in a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The FDA stated that although research has shown that triclosan has proven to be harmful to animals there are currently no hazardous effects on human health. A study conducted on mice and human cells by the University of California Davis resulted in alarming outcomes. In the study when mice had been exposed to a single dose of triclosan their heart function decreased by 25 percent. When individual human heart and skeletal muscle cells were exposed to triclosan, it resulted in poor muscle function as well as skeletal muscle and heart failure. According to a Toxicological Sciences study, triclosan has harmful effects on the endocrine system. It inhibited the thyroid hormone in rats and was also found to act as an estrogen imitator which has been known to increase the risk of breast cancer.
The dangers of triclosan are especially increased when the chemical is exposed to water and sunlight as it converts into dioxin which is extremely toxic. Also, when it is combined with chlorine it becomes chloroform, which has been categorized under possible human carcinogens.
In addition to the harmful effects that triclosan may have on human health, it also poses dangers to the environment. As most of triclosan containing products are disposed of through drains, it contaminates waterways and is not removed by wastewater treatment plants. A U.S. Geological Survey discovered that out of 95 wastewater pollutants, triclosan was one of the most commonly detected contaminants at levels of high concentration found in stream water. Studies have shown that as it contaminates the natural waterways it becomes poisonous to aquatic animals and organisms such as fish and algae.
Minnesota State Senator John Marty, a supporter of the bill to ban triclosan containing products, trusts that the impact of the bill will be larger than its removal from stores in Minnesota. He believes that the bill will encourage manufacturers not to use triclosan before the law goes into effect in January 2017. Marty’s theory appears to have some validity as several large companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Avon and Procter & Gamble have shown a reduction in producing triclosan containing products.
Currently the FDA is conducting studies on the effects of triclosan on the endocrine system as well as the effects it has on animals and the environment.
By: Sarah Temori