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Senator Kennedy Introduces Legislation to Ban Triclosan

BY KATIE GIBAS

Posted: October 23, 2015
Originally Published: October 20, 2015

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A lot of people like to use anti-bacterial soaps to kill as many germs as possible, but advocates say the chemicals in those products could be harming the environment.

It's a windy fall day in Buffalo, but there are still people in the water, making the most of the last few days of warm weather. It's the backdrop as local leaders talk about the latest concern for the Great Lakes.

"Unfortunately like a lot of chemicals this is not visible. These are nano-particles," Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper Executive Director Jill Jedlicka said. "They're hormone level, so it's not something that you'd physically see."

They're talking about the chemical triclosan. It's an anti-bacterial agent found in soaps, detergents and other cleaning products.

Advocates say it's toxic to aquatic life and algae. Human effects are still unknown.

"Laboratory evidence, monitoring elsewhere in the Great Lakes is demonstrating that this chemical is starting to be prevalent in our drinking water systems," Jedlicka said.

That's why State Senator Tim Kennedy introduced legislation Tuesday to ban Triclosan.

"We live next to the largest freshwater supply on earth. One fifth of the world's fresh water is found in our Great Lakes. We have a duty and responsibility to keep our Great Lakes clean," Kennedy said

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," Citizens Campaign for the Environment Associate Executive Director Brian Smith said. "We need not wait to get to a point where we have to spend millions upon millions of dollars to cleanup past mistakes, or for that matter, compromise the hundreds of millions we've already spent to clean up our waterways."

Minnesota already banned triclosan in May 2014.

Some companies, like Johnson and Johnson have voluntarily removed it from their products.

"That's a good first step to take voluntary action to take these chemicals out of their products," Smith said. "But ultimately, as we have seen with so many of these new and emerging issues, microbeads being a great example, many will not take action unless we force them to do so."

However, Kennedy admits it will be a fight to get the legislation passed.

"I strongly believe that these pieces of legislation need to be fast-tracked in Albany. Under the current Republican majority, we can't even get a vote on the Senate floor. It's shameful," Kennedy said.

The only exception to the legislation would be products in hospitals.

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