State Takes Stance on Triclosan

Posted on May 23, 2014


Anti-microbial qualities have been an obsession of consumer goods manufacturers for the better part of a decade.  Part of this drive has been the media’s focus on exotic and potentially deadly pandemics—Ebola, bird flu, swine flu and the like—which seem to grab the headlines every other year or so.  Now it is MERS, and Florida had its first reported cases this week.

And on the hospital side, administrators are concerned with hospital acquired infections (HAIs) and ‘superbugs’ like MRSA, which made the news this week in a study on how long the organism can live on surfaces in an airplane cabin.

This week, Minnesota became the first state to ban triclosan, an anti-bacterial agent common in hand soaps and toothpaste.

Although noteworthy, this action is far from radical for two reasons.  First, it does not take effect until 2017—plenty of time to reformulate hundreds of consumer products in Minnesota and beyond.  Second, triclosan is not merely a harmless anti-bacterial ingredient; it is an identified pesticide by the EPA with nasty biological side effects.

Who wants pesticides in his mouth (toothpaste)?  What parent wants pesticides in her home, around her kids?

Killing bacteria can be accomplished in several ways, and using pesticides, with all the negatives that come along with them, is not necessary.  I blogged earlier this year about triclosan in comparison to natural, metallic antibacterial.

Materials science has and will continue to take care of these concerns, so let’s make a studied and purposeful effort to eliminate the cheap, easy and dangerous chemical solutions—in our homes and in our hospitals.