Study shows a low-risk for environment from use of detergents

August 23rd, 2013 Category: Building Management

A new study in the US has shown that the ingredients used in detergents have a low risk factor when it comes to damaging the environment, with waterways and other key areas unlikely to be affected, it claimed.

According to the findings of the Occurrence and Risk Screening of Alcohol Ethoxylate Surfactants in Three US River Sediments Associated with Wastewater Treatment Plants from the American Cleaning Institute, the disposal and aftermath of detergents are a key consideration for firms working in cleaning. 

The study said the primary method for disposal of alcohol ethoxylates (AE) is to pour them down the drain, which means they travel through sewage systems and into surface water. This disposal method makes the environmental impact of detergents an important consideration.

It explained that aliphatic alcohols or simply, fatty alcohols – represent a special interest in the context of environmental risk, as these alcohols are also abundant and ubiquitous naturally occurring compounds. 

The consideration then needs to be the distinguishing between the natural fatty alcohol concentrations and the added contribution from human activities, one expert working on the paper explained.

However, the study said that those companies looking to make sure that they are providing an environmentally-friendly operation need not fear the solutions posing a risk.

Researchers carried out a risk assessment via weight of evidence in a range of streams to find the exposure and perceived risk by comparing these to natural habitats and plant life, and concluded that the danger level was low.

Kathleen Stanton, American Cleaning Institute director of technical and regulatory affairs and one of the paper's co-authors, said: "We found through a weight-of-evidence risk assessment that alcohol ethoxylates and fatty acids associated with detergent use present a low risk to the environment. It also highlights the need to carefully consider the procedures for environmental risk assessment of compounds such as fatty alochols as they are found naturally in the environment as well as associated with consumer product use."