Minnesota should encourage industry to move toward "green chemistry," according to a report released Wednesday from the Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Health.
"Green chemistry" means using less harmful substances in making products, and is a growing trend in some European countries.
MPCA's Mike Sandusky says a lot of Minnesota companies are already meeting those stricter European standards.
"These companies who are already engaging in chemical regulation and green chemistry are putting themselves in a place of advantage," he said.
Next year the Health Department will draw up a list of about 10 chemicals, known to have harmful effects and found in humans or the environment. The department will recommend that the Legislature regulate them.
Last year, the Legislature banned a chemical called BPA from plastic baby bottles and sippy cups at the urging of a group called Healthy Legacy.
Kathleen Schuler, who is with Healthy Legacy, said Minnesota businesses could be world leaders in green chemistry -- similar to its standing in the medical device sector.
"We'd like to see green chemistry promoted in the same way, so you'd have incentive programs, technical assistance through state agencies, you have data sharing, academic training," she said. "All those things are necessary because there will be some businesses that take the lead, but not all of them will."
The report says the state should take a systemic approach to the problem, rather than banning one substance at a time.