Reduce the Water Pollution Toxic Burden
Our waterways aren’t always the first thing on our minds. We don’t usually think about water pollution when we’re flushing the toilet or pouring something down the sink. It’s even easy to believe flushing a hazardous chemical like bleach down the toilet is okay; especially after decades of advertising encouraging us to do so…
As such, many of the UK’s 27.8 million households still flush bleach down toilets into waterways, with no thought of the impact on aquatic life. Now add in everything else that we discard down the drain or pour down the sink… the car washing chemicals, the dishwasher detergent, the cleaning products that contain nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia…
We’ve all done it and it’s time to take responsibility. It’s time to acknowledge the impact and then take small but meaningful strides towards a better, cleaner world. Personal ownership and a few simple steps go a long way towards protecting our waterways – for us, for future generations and for all living beings on our planet.
What is a Hazardous Chemical?
Understanding exactly what you’re putting down the drain is important so you can take action and reduce water pollution.
Safopeodia describe a hazardous chemical as a chemical that has properties with the potential to do harm to human or animal health, the environment, or capable of damaging property. Common pollutants include pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, detergents, oil, industrial chemicals, and sewage. Discharging these harmful substances into rivers, lakes and seas causes water pollution.
From a corporate perspective, every industry that involves manufacturing generates waste. A portion of that waste – especially from agricultural and industrial sites – is hazardous to our waterways in some way. And whilst many companies safely dispose of or recycling their waste, some still ends up in our oceans and freshwater.
Households and offices contribute too, on a smaller but continual basis. Since the pandemic, we have become a little paranoid about germs in our homes and workplaces. So we stocked up on sanitisers, antibacterial sprays and “virus killers” to keep our homes and families safe. We spray these chemicals all over our kitchens, door handles and desks – and even our hands.
We also use common household hazardous chemicals unnecessarily for other cleaning: Hot tub chlorine, mould cleaner, car shampoo, dog shampoo and hand soap can all contain pollutants that cause environmental damage in the water system.
How do Hazardous Chemical Cause Water Pollution?
Chemicals are filling our oceans. Chemical runoff has been causing significant damage to our oceans and waterways for decades. This affects people, aquatic animals and habitats in a variety of unexpected ways.
The disposal and dumping of chemicals into drains and water causes aquatic pollution, and the global concerns are justified. Among other damage, harmful chemicals accelerate plant life cycles, increase carbon dioxide levels and deplete the oxygen supply. This is changing the acidity of our oceans, which has increased by over 25% since pre-industrial days. This chemically-changed pH affects marine life such as oysters, clams and sea urchins by stunting exoskeleton development and dissolving their shells. It also affects certain plankton species, which disrupts the whole ecosystem balance.
Unfortunately there’s no guarantee that the household chemicals you discard after use won’t make it into oceans and waterways. Those chemicals don’t magically disappear when discarded; they leave your building and can end up in the environment, where wildlife can have a sip.
We can trace ocean pollutants from homes and offices to far away coastlines upstream and every point in-between. From cruise ships routinely dumping grey water and black water into the ocean, to people dumping chemicals down drains, there are countless instances of aquatic pollution that damage the environment.
Some chemicals are never treated at all, because many drains don’t lead to water treatment works. Many storm drains lead straight into seas, streams and rivers. The chemicals dumped here directly pollute the immediate environment, destroying marine life and beyond.
The Problem with Water Treatment Plants
Chemicals destined for a water treatment plant can still cause significant damage on their journey there.
In addition, water filtration systems do not always remove all contaminants. Sewage and waste water can still contain harmful chemicals, bacteria and pathogens even after treatment. However, more intensive water treatment processes using a greater concentration of chemicals to treat the effluent is clearly not the answer!
It’s also important to consider that some cleaning products contain chemicals that are not biodegradable. Natural organisms cannot break them down, so they pollute the environment forever. And some of those labelled biodegradable are very slow to biodegrade (sometimes taking decades).
The Hidden Hazardous Damage to Your Health
It’s not just our waterways that dangerous household cleaners impact; it’s us too. Hazardous chemicals in common cleaning products can damage our health in several ways:
- The overuse of antibacterial chemical cleaners can produce strains of bacteria that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. The World Health Organisation lists Antimicrobial resistance as a top 10 global threat to public health. And yes, this is as scary as it sounds.
- Many household cleaning products use chemicals that are known respiratory irritants, especially for people with asthma. Asthma UK says it is deeply concerned that new research suggests these products can cause long-term health problems. If your cleaning products make you sneeze, make your eyes water, or cause you irritation, it may be your body’s natural reaction to their chemicals.
- Some household cleaning products use chemicals that are toxic for dogs, cats and aquatic life. Products containing ammonia, bleach, phthalates (sometimes listed as fragrance) and benzalkonium chloride can cause health problems in pets. We have complex immune systems that handle massive amounts of abuse, but many of our furry friends don’t. Think about their tiny lungs before you mop the floor with bleach…
So What Can You Do to Reduce Water Pollution?
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the weight of the world’s pollution resting on our shoulders, but small steps help us all do our part:
Don’t buy it – Exactly this. Don’t buy it and you won’t use it. Changing your individual habits is the first step. Just add safer products to your shopping list – don’t use hazardous chemicals when you don’t need to! The simplest measure you can take to reduce your impact on the environment is to remove and reduce unnecessary chemicals from your cleaning processes by substituting products.
Think before you sink! – Before you flush something down the drain, or toilet, think about whether you should be putting it down there.
Switch to probiotic cleaning products – Probiotic cleaners actively benefit the aquatic environment rather than actively destroy it…
How Probiotic Cleaning Helps
You can make a difference today by simply substituting harsh chemical cleaners with natural, probiotic cleaners.
Provilan cleaning products are sustainable eco-detergents with added ‘good’ (probiotic) bacteria. These helpful probiotics restore a healthy microflora balance to skin, surfaces, water and the environment. This helps the environment and does not cause ecological damage. All products in the range are:
- Free from chemicals, toxins, parabens and animal testing.
- Eco-friendly and quickly biodegradable.
- Green Seal accredited.
- Clever Akafen certified as having a low ecological impact.
- Recognised by the SDK ISO:14.024 circular economy label from the Ministry of Environment in Luxembourg.
- Containers made using ocean recovered plastics.
Uniquely, the helpful probiotics continue working when discarded down your drain. They reduce water pollution and the toxic burden, they do not add to it. This is because they continue to clean the wastewater, sewage, drains and pipework. They do not cause pollution, risk harming people or animal health and do not require expensive, safety-conscious waste management at the end of their life. This fulfils the key circular economy criteria “to preserve and extend what’s already made”.
You can read more in our previous post ‘How Probiotic Cleaning Products Help the Circular Economy’.
Taking the Next Steps…
We do not live in a perfect world, we know that. But as concerns grow over climate change and the environment, more people than ever are paying close attention to the cleaning products they use.
The intention behind this article is to get more people aware of their chemical use, and try our best to keep us and our waterways healthy. Every little bit helps; just swapping your usual cleaner for something less toxic means you have had a positive impact.
Chemicals in cleaning products are no longer necessary now you have safer (and more effective) alternatives. Contact us to see how easy (and inexpensive) it is to make the change.