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Continued: Minnesota government won't buy antibacterial products

The state and about 100 school districts and local governments together buy about $1 million worth of cleaning products annually through joint purchasing contracts, though not all of that is for products that might contain triclosan. But starting this year, the list of choices will include only those that don’t have it.

Monday’s announcement is part of a broader state sustainability initiative — signed by Dayton — that also includes plans to reduce the use of bottled water and make printing and copying more efficient. In past years, the state has also used its buying power in other ways, including mandating the use of recycled print cartridges in state offices.

Banned elsewhere

Concern about the use of triclosan is growing globally. Japan has banned the sale of consumer products with the chemical, Canada is considering it, and the Kaiser Permanente medical system in California has stopped using them its hospitals. The consumer product giant Johnson & Johnson is phasing out its use as well.

In the environment, triclosan becomes a dioxin, a family of environmental contaminants linked to a variety of health risks, from cancer to hormone disruption, and which persist in the environment for years. They once came largely from industrial sources such as paper pulp mills and garbage incinerators, but increasingly stringent regulations have greatly reduced their emissions.

The recent study of triclosan in eight Minnesota lakes, conducted by scientists at the University of Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota, found that triclosan and the dioxins it forms have increased in sediment while other kinds have decreased. In short, even though the water-treatment process removes most of the triclosan, antibacterial products are now the primary source of dioxins in the lakes and rivers.

Josephine Marcotty • 612-673-7394

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