Student Government lobbies triclosan anti-bacterial soap ban

Bobby Blanchard

While anti-bacterial soap can be hygienic, Student Government members want the campus to ban the soap because it contains a chemical possibly harmful to students’ health.

A possible ban on antibacterial soap containing triclosan, a chemical that can lower immune function, is being pushed by Student Government after they passed a resolution Tuesday night. In addition to weakening the immune system, the chemical triclosan can potentially harm aquatic life. The Environmental Protection Agency is currently considering banning the chemical. The University stopped using the antibacterial soap containing the chemical triclosan in restrooms on campus four years ago. However, soap containing the chemical is still used in other places on campus.

Student government representative and public affairs graduate student Robert Love said the soap is still used by the Division of Housing and Food Service, University Health Services and the School of Nursing.

“What we’re saying is we need an outright ban on campus, and we need to kind of make a bold statement,” said urban studies senior and SG representative John Lawler, who helped author the bill. “In a lot of places it’s not being banned; it’s not being considered a harmful chemical.”

Love said University officials are receptive to the potential ban.

“UT is a very progressive campus and everyone I have spoken to has been willing to look at the science and then make a decision based upon that science,” Love said.

Love said after he asked the Division of Housing and Food Service to look into the chemical’s harmful effects, they stopped buying it.

“Just a little bit of information went a long way in persuading the University about the dangers of triclosan,” Love said.

Love said the next step for the ban would be for SG President Natalie Butler and others on the executive board to advocate the bill. Love said UT would be the first university in the nation to take an official stance against triclosan in anti-bacterial soap.