Minnesota has passed a law that will make it illegal to manufacture and sell any cleaning products containing a common antibacterial chemical, Triclosan, by 2017.
Triclosan has been a key ingredient in 75% of all soaps, detergents, deodorants, and toothpastes for decades. It kills bacteria by disabling an enzyme used in fatty acid synthesis. The chemical doesn’t affect human enzymes, making it safe for common use.
More importantly, a recent University of Minnesota study showed that triclosan has been building up in lake sediment.
Scientists fear that the prevalence of the chemical in the environment could drive the evolution of resistant bacteria, making soaps less effective in hospitals where they are actually needed.