SALEM,ore. -- A new ban on phosphate-laden dishwasher detergents goes into effect July 1st in Oregon and Washington.
Stores like Fred Meyer have already made the change. Their shelves are already stocked with low-phosphate or phosphate free dishwasher detergents.
The law makes it illegal for any store in Oregon or Washington to sell detergents with high amounts of phosphorous. The reason: Sewage treatment plants can't clean all the phosphorous out of treated water, so a lot ends up in our lakes and streams.
Phosphorus acts like a fertilizer causing algae blooms which in turn suck up oxygen in the water suffocating the fish.
If they start going up creeks and tributaries ... if those are choked with phosphorous and if those streams are biologically dead and if they do they're not going to live, explained Gerry St. Pierre, restoration manager with Willamette Riverkeeper.
But that s not all. Phosphorus can also cause the growth of blue-green algae which is toxic to people and pets.
Last year a couple of dogs dies from drinking water with the toxic algae in it, said Marcia Danab with Oregon DEQ.
And while some consumers worry the low-phosphate detergent won t work as well, the reviews so far have been positive.
In fact we been seeing a lot of these products in our stores for months now and we haven't heard any complaints, said Judi Swift with Fred Meyer.
The DEQ says similar bans in other cities did result in a reduction of phosphates in area lakes and streams.
Shoppers who spot dishwasher detergent in a store with more than .5 % of phosphorus in it are urged to report it to the DEQ.