Phosphates have been a major ingredient in cleaning items for some time, and their use has been scrutinized and forbidden in some cleaners.
It comes from many sources, like runoff from rain, agricultural and water system industries and from using cleansers that contain phosphates, and all of this adds to the accumulation in water supplies.
Phosphates have been used in many cleaners like dishwashing and laundry detergents. They reportedly can make soaps work better by assisting in dirt and grease removal, helping to prevent spots and keeping dirt particles from attaching to surfaces.
Though they are helpful for cleaning, in abundance they are not so accommodating for the environment. Phosphates aid the progression of plant life, and when used in excess, problems with plant and algae overgrowth can develop. When this process consumes water areas it can greatly affect the fish and other water life, causing decreased oxygen levels. When overrun, it can actually kill off water populations and create an imbalance in the natural aquatic system.
Most laundry detergents in the U.S. have been phosphate free for some time and many dishwashing detergents are now more ecologically friendly, containing less amounts than prior years. Additionally, increasingly more non-toxic and biodegradable options are becoming available in the retail mainstream. Other places, including the European Union are also progressively limiting or getting rid of phosphates in laundry and dishwashing detergents, although they are still used in some areas.
However, some suppliers and consumers are not happy about this decision to eradicate phosphates in household and commercial cleaners, reporting a decreased cleaning quality in lower concentrations or phosphate free products. Many companies are responding by trying to develop more effective yet still ecologically sustainable options.
Using smarter cleaners does make a dent in environmental issues, and is something that can be done at home.
If having to worry about which cleaner to buy is just one more purchase that makes your head spin, the do it yourself route is always an option. Making your own dishwashing and laundry detergents can be a natural alternative to store bought types and is as simple as mixing together a few ingredients.
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