According to USA Today, July starts a ban in sixteen states of the sale of dishwasher detergents that contain high levels of phosphates, a source of pollution in lakes and streams.
Stores will not be allowed to sell detergent with more than 0.5 percent phosphorous. The bans do not apply to commercial dishwashing products, and detergents for hand-washing dishes generally contain no phosphorus.
States instituting the rule include Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin, reports the Associated Press.
Some areas such as Spokane County, Wash., have had such bans in place for years.
“Phosphorous is like a fertilizer. It increases algae and aquatic weed growth in water bodies,” Bernie Duffy, natural resource specialist with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, told the AP. He said too much algae depletes oxygen needed for healthy fish and aquatic life.
Sewage treatment plants and private septic systems can remove much but not all of the phosphorous from wastewater, so some of it ends up in lakes, streams and rivers.
As a result of the ban, some familiar brands such as Cascade and Colgate-Palmolive are offering dish soaps with few or no phosphates.
Clorox has launched a Green Works product line that won the endorsement of the Sierra Club and Martha Stewart has developed a low-phosphate “Clean” line with Hain Celestial Brand, reports Environmental Leader, which says eco-friendly brands such as Seventh Generation and Method have gained in popularity.