Working to protect the Mississippi River and its watershed in the Twin Cities area

Triclosan in Minnesota: An update

Triclosan derived dioxins in Lake Pepin have increased dramatically in recent years.

As Mississippi Messages readers know, triclosan in consumer products moves through wastewater treatment plants and into the river, where it transforms into dioxins and other carcinogens. Triclosan-derived dioxins have increased by 200-300% in Lake Pepin sediment, while triclosan and its dioxin byproducts are also found in increasing amounts in Minnesota lakes; 58% of U.S. streams contain triclosan, including the Mississippi River.

The Good News: Governor Dayton signed a March 4th executive order requiring state agencies to stop buying products that contain triclosan. This executive order is a tremendous victory for the Mississippi River. With the State’s leadership, Minnesota has taken a big step forward in reducing triclosan pollution to our state’s waters.

Following this executive order, FMR worked with members of the Minnesota House and Senate on a pair of bills (HF 1322 and SF 1166) that would phase out the use of triclosan in household personal care products over time. The Senate bill (SF1322), authored by Senator John Marty, passed the Senate Environment and Natural Resource committee at its first hearing.

The Bad News: Unfortunately, on March 13th SF1322 was defeated on a 7-to-5 vote in the Commerce Committee. Democrats Jim Metzen and Vicki Jensen voted with Republicans against the measure. As a result, additional legislative progress on triclosan will likely have to wait until future legislative sessions.

Next Steps: FMR, along with a developing coalition of environmental and public health organizations, is committed to continuing to advance public awareness and legislative policy on triclosan in Minnesota. We are committed to seeing legislation phasing out triclosan make it through to the governor in 2014.

Consumer Choices: We encourage all river lovers to check labels on soaps and personal care products and avoid those that contain triclosan. The Food and Drug Administration finds no evidence that households that use antibacterial products are healthier than households that use traditional products, and the Minnesota Department of Health recommends that Minnesotans avoid the use of products that contain triclosan for most household applications. Standard personal care products work well without the risks posed by additives like triclosan.

  • Consumers should wash hands with soap and water, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers to clean hands properly.
  • Triclosan-free cleaners and dish detergents, including antibacterial versions, are readily available to consumers.
  • Triclosan toothpastes may be substituted with regular toothpastes, and supplemented by over the counter mouthwashes and other products to kill bacteria without using this chemical.

For more information about products that contain triclosan, visit EWG.com.

Media Updates: For more on recent coverage of triclosan, including editorials in support of a statewide phase-out of triclosan in household personal care products, please visit the State of the River Report news page.