Detergents Information

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What are Detergents?

A detergent is a surfactant or mixture of surfactants with cleaning properties in dilute solutions. These substances are similar to soap but more soluble in hard water. Detergents are commonly available as powders or concentrated solutions. Detergents, like soap, work because they are amphiphilic, partly hydrophobic and partly hydrophilic. Anionic detergents are the most popular and nearly 6 billion kilograms are produced annually. Detergents can be introduced into the water supply by industry, soap manufacturers, and private households. Detergents can be very harmful to fish and aquatic ecosystems. Environmental analysts often include a determination of anionic detergents when assessing surface water pollution.

Health Risks

Detergents that contain phosphates are highly caustic. Surfactant detergents are toxic. All detergents are harmful to aquatic environments because they corrode the external mucous layer that protects fish from bacteria and parasites. Detergents also can severely damage gills. Most fish die when detergent concentration approach 15 ppm, but levels as low as 5 ppm can kill fish eggs. Detergents can also be toxic to humans and animals if ingested.

Measuring Detergents

The products we carry to measure Detergents can be found HERE.

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