Concern over the safety of certain chemicals in products is frequently in the news. Some chemicals meant to slow the start of fires in furniture or clothing last a long time in our environment, affecting essential organisms in the food chain. Others which are meant to keep bacteria from growing in lotions, sunscreens, or cosmetics can contribute to cancer or affect reproduction in humans.
Minnesota lawmakers respond
The 2013 Legislature passed three new bans on chemicals in products — formaldehyde in children’s personal care products, bisphenol A (BPA) in the packaging of foods intended for infants and toddlers, and pavement sealcoats containing coal tar pitch — which the governor signed into law. Earlier in the year, the governor also prohibited state agencies from purchasing hand soaps, dish, and laundry products that contain triclosan, which is intended to kill bacteria but harms organisms as it breaks down in rivers once we’ve rinsed it down the drain.
Minnesota companies take up the challenge
Cases of harmful chemicals in products are increasingly familiar, and regulations now restrict many undesirable uses. But what is going on in Minnesota to develop alternatives we can use more safely? For one thing, many Minnesota companies make it their mission to produce safer alternatives and encourage other companies to do so as well. You may find these companies and some of their work through the Minnesota Green Chemistry Forum and its events.
Also, Minnesota companies have developed many products for consumers and businesses, which have earned the rigorous Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Product Label, approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. You can find a listing of DfE safer products made on MPCA's Minnesota products certified by the U.S. EPA webpage. Read how the EPA awards the label.