Monday, September 15, 2008

Biodegradable Soap

by Eric Pfaff

The following comes from an article in the Fall 2008 issue of "News Splash," courtesy of the Bellevue Stream Team.

"Did You Know...? Biodegradable soap is toxic to aquatic life.

Surprised? You're not alone. Most people assume 'biodegradable' implies 'safe for the environment.' But, if you don't understand how it work it can be as harmful as regular soap.

While 'biodegradable' does mean that the product will break down in the environment, the issue lies with how long it takes to break down and under what conditions. The label on the bottle should say to use it at least 200 feet from a body of water. That's because it is harmful to aquatic life but also because it requires the organisms in the soil to break down. Without soil, the soap cannot break down as intended.

Soapy water is great for cleaning your car but is harmful to our streams, lakes, and wildlife. Soap, even biodegradable, makes breathing difficult for fish and kills good bugs. Dirty car wash water also carries fine sediment that clogs the spaces between rocks where macroinvertebrates and salmon eggs live. Not washing your car keeps the soap out of the streams but allows the rain to wash the dirt, grease, and heavy metals into the streams.

Be kind to our streams by taking your car to a commercial car wash where the used water is sent to the sewer system to be treated. Another great option, if you have the right space, is to park your car on the lawn or gravel at home where the soil can filter the pollutants."

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