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Legislature Ponders Dishwasher Detergent Ban

Last updated on Tuesday, February 12, 2008

(UNDATED) - Indiana banned phosphorus-based detergents twenty-five years ago. Home dishwashers were rare then, so they were excluded.

Dishwasher detergents sold in Indiana still contain up to eight percent phosphorus which, along with nitrogen, remains a major cause of algae in lakes and streams. Now the state legislature wants to close that loophole with a ban on the sale of phosphorus-based dishwasher soap after July 1, 2010.

Thomas Easterly, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), says soap manufacturers will have an enzyme-based product available by the deadline that will clean dishes well.

Commercial dishwashers, such as those used in restaurants, will remain exempt from the ban. Scientists haven't found a way to prevent the extremely high water temperature in those machines from killing the enzyme in the new formula.

The bill banning phosphorus-based dishwasher soap slipped easily through the senate's environmental committee after originating in the house chamber.

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