With changes to phosphates in cleaners, extension agent asks people to have faith in science

Limits in Utah on phosphates in detergents will remain in place for now after a split vote in a Utah House committee this week failed to send a bill forward to rescind those limits. Claims have been made that restricting the phosphates is causing spotty dishes. Kathy Riggs, a Utah State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Professor, has received calls from people asking why their dishes are so dingy. “We’ve had people call thinking they need a new dishwasher because of the heavy film that was on their dishes after they run them through a regular cycle,” said. “Actually, it’s deposits of the film that phosphates can remove and it is there because we no longer have the phosphates in our detergents. “They did the same thing to our laundry detergents several years back and it wasn’t until consumers started to complain about dingy clothes that they started making changes then.” Riggs said she assumes something similar will happen down the line for the care of dishes. “We are being encouraged to have a little faith in science,” said Riggs. “Just as they were able to make corrections with our laundry detergent so that we can now clean effectively with new formulas, they expect that new formulas will be designed to help us with our dishes as well, without re-introducing the phosphates.” Riggs said concerns for the environment led several states to ban phosphates from dishwater detergents and dish washing soaps and that Utah was one of those states. Previously phosphates could constitute 8.7 percent of dishwasher detergent. Now regulations limit them to 0.5 percent.

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