See more of the story

Indeed, research does show triclosan benefit

Dr. Michael Osterholm's March 21 counterpoint on the antibacterial ingredient triclosan ("Antimicrobial hucksters can't be trusted") contained some regrettable errors, especially his claim that there's no research showcasing any health benefits.

Research published in the American Journal of Infection Control (1995) showed that the use of a triclosan hand wash had a direct and positive effect in the eradication of a continued outbreak of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) in a neonatal nursery.

Separate research published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health (1994) reported that, following the introduction of a triclosan hand wash in a neonatal intensive care unit, there was a gradual elimination of MRSA in the unit, and lower antibiotic use and hospital-acquired infections were recorded.

And while triclosan has been found in trace amounts in sediments in aquatic environments, there is no evidence of significant risk to humans or the environment. Research has consistently shown that triclosan and its breakdown products do not pose a risk to aquatic or terrestrial environments, nor do they pose a threat of accumulation in drinking water or food.

Also, there is no evidence that triclosan is a threat to children. The Environmental Protection Agency has reviewed the levels to which children are exposed and has found wide margins of safety.

Paul DeLeo, Washington, D.C.

The writer is associate vice president for environmental safety at the American Cleaning Institute in Washington.


In trade deal, beware corporate right to sue

Ongoing letters between former congressmen Mark Kennedy and Tim Penny and U.S. Reps. Rick Nolan and Keith Ellison regarding the secret negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) still do not shed light on special rights and privileges granted corporations. Specifically, pro-investor tribunals run by corporate lawyers — known as the investor-state dispute resolution (ISDR) system — give "investors the right to sue governments for compensation over rules that affect their expected profits." This trade-agreement language provided by the reputable Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) warns that corporations representing the energy, pharmaceutical, agriculture and chemical sectors are granted the right to sue governments over the loss of future revenues due to public health, safety and environmental regulations.

With tobacco company lawyers suing the Australian government through the ISDR tribunals for huge sums of money, where does that leave Minnesota with higher renewable-energy standards and U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's product and child safety legislative achievements? Advisers at IATP warn against the powerful influence of industry lobby groups and caution that future trade agreements will "set the standard for future trade agreements."

Civil society requires that elected officials be given full access to the TPP with opportunities for public response and amendment. The future of democracy demands no fast-track authority on passing the TPP.

Julie French Holmen, St. Paul

Would Mary mind Kenilworth route?

Routing the Southwest LRT line is a classic public-policy dilemma: major benefits for the metropolitan area vs. pain for some who, like Mary Tyler Moore, have chosen to live near the popular lakes that define our beautiful city.

The Kenilworth route was selected over four other options in a decadelong, open planning process ( that considered cost, ridership, economic development, environmental effects, business concerns and community equity.

Now it's time for our mayor and City Council, who promised to address these issues, to make a tough political choice and support the Metropolitan Council. It's not the 1970s, after all.

Richard Adair, Minneapolis

Call these vaporizers by any other name …

The real problem with e-cigarettes started with the name. If they would have been called smokeless vaporizers at the beginning, people would be more open to their acceptance. Cigarettes have a bad reputation, rightly so, but other forms of nicotine satisfaction don't necessarily deserve to be lumped in with cigarettes. I used to use a Primatene Mist asthma inhaler that used a propellant to deliver the dosage. Because of government regulations, they are no longer available, and I am restricted to using an Asthmanerfin inhaler. It takes a liquid form of the medicine that you put into a vaporizer. Exactly like an e-cigarette. If they help one person quit smoking, then we as a society need to stop looking for the bad, and hope that maybe this is a good thing.

Richard Thompson, St. James, Minn.