Minnesota is now the first state to prohibit triclosan from hygiene products, an ingredient found in everything from toothpaste to soaps to deodorants. In fact, the chemical is so widespread that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates it's used in 75 percent of anti-bacterial liquid soaps and body washes, meaning it's likely in a number of items currently in your home.
On May 16, 2014, governor Mark Dayton signed the bill into law because of health and environmental concerns about the chemical. Though the ban doesn't take effect until Jan. 1, 2017, one of its lead sponsors, state senator John Marty forecasts that most manufacturers will phase out triclosan by then on their own.
"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 told Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO.
Developed more than 40 years ago, this ingredient claimed to do away with germs, but FDA studies suggest that not only is it ineffective, it also may be harmful. Researchers indicate that triclosan could promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria.
Marty believes that the federal government will likely take action, too. Some companies like Procter & Gamble have altered their toothpaste formulas to be triclosan-free. Last year, the FDA announced that it would revisit the safety of triclosan. Notably, hand sanitizers do not contain triclosan, but use alcohol as the main ingredient.
The American Cleaning Institute urged Dayton to veto the new bill, arguing that triclosan has been shown to provide health benefits. However, the FDA disagrees.
One of the most disconcerting uses of the chemical is in toothpaste formulas, as people run the risk of swallowing or digesting it. Research has shown that triclosan may cause damage to the endocrine system and weaken the immune system, among other health risks. As a solution, people can still find toothpaste for bad breath and gingivitis without scrubbing with these harmful chemicals. However, be wary of misleading labels - some companies will disguise the ingredient as one of the following: Cloxifenolum, Lexol-300, Additive B, Irgasan (DP 300 or PG 60), Microban or Ster-Zac.
TheraBreath's toothpaste does not contain triclosan, but rather packs oxygen compounds that help alleviate bad beath and combat cavities (with fluoride), and dry mouth.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please Note: The material on this site is provided for informational purposes only. Always consult your health care professional before beginning any new therapy.