Monday, January 31, 2011

Dirty Dishes? You'll get over it!

Recently, 16 states passed a law to remove phosphate from dish detergent sold in stores within their state lines. Many consumers are complaining about their dishes being unclean without thinking about the benefits of having this additive, which is harmful to the environment, removed from their favorite liquid dish and dishwasher soaps. Many consumers are even angry at the companies, such as Proctor and Gamble, that produce these soaps because their dishes are not getting clean as they were before the phosphorus was removed.

While phosphorus acts as a great food and grease remover as an additive in dish soap, it can also be harmful to many aquatic environments. Making up to 35 percent of many dish soaps, phosphorus has the ability to find its way into lakes and streams by way of septic systems that drain directly into waterways. Furthermore, phosphorus is also found in fertilizers which seep into these aquatic ecosystems and wreak havoc on their intricate bio network. The phosphorus from fertilizers and dish soaps cause algal blooms in waterways and therefore cause oxygen to be depleted from many of these important areas. Without oxygen, aquatic organisms will not be able to survive which eventually will cause extinctions of important fauna and disrupt waterway ecology.

I suggest that people worry less about having perfectly clean dishes, and more about the reason behind the new regulations on phosphorus. Your dishes won't be used if there aren't food resources to put on them!

Read the complete story HERE!


  1. This is a good example of the conflicts that can arise between consumers and environmental laws. Do most consumers understand the links between phosphates and water quality and associated issues? To what extent is sufficient education/information provided to help consumers understand the rationale behind laws? Are news sources providing unbiased reporting to provide the information consumers need? How should environmental science/issues be communicated to the public? Many questions can come out of this general discussion.

  2. I'm sure the average consumer doesn't think about the phosphorous content of their dish soap when they're at the store. Hopefully, research will be done soon (if not being done now) to identify a compound that can be used in dish soaps that effectively cleans the dishes, but is less harmful to aquatic organisms.