A bill to eventually ban the sale of some common household cleansing products that contain a certain anti-bacterial chemical has won initial approval in an Iowa Senate subcommittee. Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, is the main sponsor of the bill that would ban the sale of products that contain triclosan It’s found in soaps, hand sanitizers and body washes.

“We’ve seen in animal studies that triclosans have been linked to liver damage…and possibly a risk of cancer,” Bolkcom said Monday afternoon during a subcommittee meeting on the bill.

Due to widespread use of products with this ingredient, scientists say triclosan is now in our soil and water, plus Bolkcom said 75 percent of Americans have it in their fatty tissues.

“In the absence of strong federal regulation of this, I think it’s important that we protect the citizens of the state of Iowa by phasing out the use of triclosans in these common products that have shown no evidence that they’re more effective than the regular soaps that people commonly use,” Bolkcom said.

And Bolkcom said research is suggesting use of these anti-bacterial agents can actually lead to strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, has changed to another brand of soap over concerns about triclosan.

“Iowans need to learn about this and know what they’re doing,” said Dotzler, another member of the subcommittee.

According to the FDA, about 75 percent of liquid hand soaps and 30 percent of bar soaps sold in the U.S. contain triclosan. Jim Henter, president of the Iowa Retail Federation, told Dotzler and Bolkcom it’s unclear what store shelves in Iowa would look like if the bill passes and the ban takes effect in 2017.

“We have a lot of our folks trying to figure out the impact of this,” Henter said during Monday’s subcommittee meeting. “…Are we still going to be able to sell soap?”

Minnesota’s legislature passed a ban on triclosan in consumer soaps and that ban takes effect in 2017. Last year Minnesota’s governor directed his state agencies to stop buying products that contain the ingredient.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of triclosan in toothpaste and Bolkcom’s bill in the Iowa Senate would not ban the sale of toothpaste that has the ingredient.