(NaturalNews) An antibacterial chemical commonly used in conventional soaps and toothpastes has been banned from use in some products within the state of Minnesota, according to new reports. Governor Mark Dayton recently signed into a law a bill prohibiting the use of triclosan, a chemical agent linked to causing hormone disruption and cancer, in products used for hand sanitizing and body cleansing purposes.
Set to take effect on January 1, 2017, the law explicitly forbids the sale of any cleaning products within the state that contain triclosan, citing "best practices in sanitation" as the impetus behind the measure. In the view of the state, removing triclosan from certain cleaning products will help in preventing the spread of infectious disease and avoidable infections.
The only products containing triclosan that will be permitted for retail sale are those specifically approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for consumer use, according to the bill. All others will have to either be reformulated or discontinued, a move that Senator John Marty, one of the bill's lead sponsors, believes will have a national impact.
"While this is an effort to ban triclosan from one of the 50 states, I think it will have a greater impact than that," stated Sen. Marty to the Associated Press (AP).
Triclosan inhibits thyroid function
With the FDA dragging its feet on the triclosan issue, Minnesota lawmakers ultimately made the determination that they would have to act alone in order to get the ball rolling. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that triclosan is present in the urine of at least 75 percent of Americans, a disturbing notion when considering the chemical's many adverse effects.
Such effects, according to Dr. Sandra Kweder, deputy director of the Office of New Drugs at the FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, include a reduction in thyroid hormones, at least in laboratory rats. A long-term safety studies revealed that triclosan not only inhibits the normal production of thyroid hormones, but also blocks thyroid hormone-associated gene expression.
"Triclosan exposure has become so common that it has shown up in the blood, urine, and breast milk of people across the globe," explains a report on triclosan put out by Food & Water Watch (FWW) and Beyond Pesticides. "While people who use triclosan products daily have higher levels of the chemical in their bodies, even consumers who do not use triclosan on their skin are exposed to it through food, water, and even household dust."
Triclosan degrades into highly-toxic dioxin chemicals
Triclosan also breaks down into other compounds that may be even more harmful than the chemical itself. Dioxins, or chlorinated compounds with known carcinogenic properties, are a byproduct of triclosan that, like triclosan itself, have never been tested or evaluated by any federal agency. And yet chlorinated triclosan is everywhere.
"In wastewater treatment plants, the bonus chlorine atom or two that tap water had added to the (triclosan) molecule tends to be stripped off," writes Janet Raloff for ScienceNews.org, citing William Arnold, an environmental engineer at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
"But in the finishing stage at those treatment plants, most water gets one last chlorine-disinfection step, which 'will re-chlorinate the triclosan,' [Arnold] says, before the water is released out into rivers."
In other words, the constant flushing of triclosan down the drain is creating a major environmental and public health hazard, one that Minnesota -- and hopefully other states in the future -- recognizes as problematic.