Who's doing the dishes? Mr/Ms Phosphate?
Doing any dishes this holiday season?
Does the designated dishwasher(s) ever share the job with an automatic dishwasher?
If so, what’s your favorite dishwasher detergent?
Well, maybe not if you make your home in a river, stream, pond, or lake.
Along with lovely fish and aquatic plants, normal bacteria often called blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria), live in fresh water.
The algae normally are not a problem until they feed on lots of phosphates from our lawn fertilizers, dishwasher detergents, and personal care products, and more. Then, these critters “consume oxygen, keep valuable sunlight from other water plants and is just one more struggle for wildlife,” reports the Charles River Water Association.
Massachusetts ponds and lakes experience algae blooms regularly and so much so that the EPA has joined with local efforts. “Explosive algae growth has turned the [Charles] river a day-glow green during the warm spells of the last two summers. That vivid color indicates the presence of "blue green" algae … whose cells may release a toxin when they die. Exposure to the toxin can cause skin rashes and irritate the nose, eyes, or throat, and if ingested can lead to serious liver and nervous system damage. Other harmful affects of the algae include reduced water clarity, nuisance scum, and reduced oxygen in the water.” Euuuuu!!!!!!
So what’s the dishwasher detergent connection?
Phosphorus, often in its salt form, phosphate, is a very common additive to products used at home since these salts are known to be non-toxic and safe for humans. You can find them in household cleaners, personal care products, and even food. In household products, phosphates are added so products dissolve easily, disperse dirt, maintain a balanced pH, and rinse cleanly.
For instance, "automatic dishwashing detergent contribute between 9% and 34% of the phosphorus load going to wastewater treatment plants from domestic sewage” says Nigel Pickering, Senior Engineer and Water Modeler, CRWA. Other products include “power” spray cleaners, deck and siding cleaners, lawn fertilizers, shampoos and conditioners, hair dyes, colors and permanents, skin care products, cosmetics, and even toothpaste.
All stuff that goes right down our drains, through our septic systems and storm sewers and reintroduced right into our waterways.
Isn't that a tragedy if it's easy and realistic and economical to fix?
Need more information to make the change?
Email me for a phosphate "load and price comparison" sheet. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Or, just click here to eliminate the whole problem today. Why make it hard?