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Michigan's Efforts to Protect Water Quality Includes How You Clean Your Dishes

David Mittleman

Have you noticed anything different with your dishwasher detergent this month? You might not have noticed, but since July 1, 2010, all dishwasher detergent sold in the state of Michigan has had to be phosphate-free, as a result of new regulations designed to help maintain good water quality in lakes and rivers. Michigan joined 15 other states in banning phosphates in the hopes of reducing the growth of algae.

Phosphates are often used in dishwasher detergent because they help to cut grease and keep spots of dishes. Unfortunately, according to the Michigan Environmental Council they stimulate plant growth in lakes and rivers to the point that it impacts recreational opportunities, reduces the amount of oxygen in the water, and reduces the overall quality of the water.

This ban is viewed by some as a precursor to pushing the Michigan Legislature to pass laws prohibiting the use of fertilizers that contain phosphorous. Other Great Lakes states have similar laws already.

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