Lawmakers hear students’ study on phosphate use

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(Host) Students at Essex Town Middle School came to the Statehouse this week bearing the results of a study on phosphates in dishwashing detergents. The students conducted a series of tests to determine if non-phosphate products are as effective in cleaning dishes as the products that contain phosphates.

Lawmakers are interested in the results of the study because they’re looking at ways to reduce the amount of phosphates that flow into streams and lakes throughout the state.

The study shows that non-phosphate products clean dishes just as well as the phosphate ones, but there is a cost difference of roughly $25 a year:

(Student) “Which equates to about 52 more cents a week. And we also have to bear in mind that if the demand for non-phosphate detergents increase then it’s likely that the price for the detergent might decrease. About 73 percent of the people surveyed said that they would be willing to contribute this amount of money to helping the environment by using less harmful detergents.”

(Host) Chittenden County Senator Ginny Lyons is sponsoring legislation that calls on the state to launch a public education program to alert consumers about the problems caused by phosphate products. Lyons told the students that their study would be very helpful as lawmakers consider her bill.

(Lyons) “So it may work out that as folks learn more and more about the effectiveness of phosphate-free dishwasher detergents, we’ll see a reduction in phosphate going into our rivers, our streams and our lakes. And that’s ultimately the goal.”

(Host) The Senate approved Lyons’ bill this week. The measure now goes to the House for consideration.

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