Bill would ban phosphates in dish soap

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(Host) Under a bill given an initial green light in the Vermont Senate last week, all dishwashing detergent sold in Vermont would have to be made without phosphorous within about four years. The legislation bans all but trace elements of phosphorous in dishwashing soap in an effort to prevent algae blooms in places like Lake Champlain that can emerge from phosphorous.

Phosphates are used in dishwasher detergent to soften the water and prevent spotting and streaks on dishes. Mike Winslow is a staff scientist with the Lake Champlain Committee. He says phosphorous is the biggest problem for Lake Champlain:

(Winslow) “And within that problem, this is not a huge part of the solution but it is a significant part of the solution. And most importantly, based on our estimates, it’s a part of the solution that’s more cost effective than some of the alternatives that we’ve been considering.”

(Host) Winslow also says for anyone concerned about the phosphorous levels in detergents they use now, a quick check of the product label reveals which brands contain the highest phosphate levels:

(Winslow) “All the labels for automatic dishwasher detergents contain information on what percentage of phosphorous the product contains. The commercial product with the least phosphorous is Palmolive and then there are a number of other products available at co-ops and some grocery stores, but not all, that have no phosphorous in them.”

(Host) The Lake Champlain Committee hopes to get support from Governor Jim Douglas to increase the chances for full passage of the phosphates bill.

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