A proactive decision

Minnesota state agencies will phase out a harmful chemical.

Daily Editorial Board


Earlier this month, the Star Tribune reported that Minnesota state agencies will no longer be allowed to buy products that contain triclosan, a chemical used in various products including soap.

Triclosan becomes harmful as it goes down the drain and converts to a toxin, eventually ending up at the bottom of many lakes and rivers.

Research conducted by the University of Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota shows that triclosan has been a major source of the dioxins in Minnesota’s bodies of water as early as 1965. In Lake Pepin, there was no trace of triclosan in 1960, but the chemical now makes up 25 percent of the lake’s toxins. Studies have shown that triclosan can have harmful effects on algae and animals. 

While the Food and Drug Administration has not yet made any rulings limiting the use of the chemical, Minnesota thankfully does not have to wait around for the federal government to act.

The decision to not use triclosan may be surprising to some, but it is a smart choice that will hopefully receive little or no protest. Being proactive on the matter is far better and more economical than letting the problem worsen and having to spend money on an extensive cleanup project.

In 2010, the FDA stated that soaps using triclosan are no more effective than traditional soap products, so there is little need for the chemical in the first place.

Last year, Johnson & Johnson, a major manufacturer of soaps, said it would phase out triclosan from its products, the Duluth News Tribune reported. 

We hope other companies follow suit and that consumers will avoid purchasing items that use the chemical. We also urge the Legislature to seriously examine a possible ban of the product statewide.