It was not heavily advertised, but earlier this year dishwashing detergent makers reworked their formulas to comply with environmental regulations banning phosphates. NPR reports that consumers are starting to get very frustrated:
Sue Wright from Austin, Texas, says for months her cups and glasses have been coming out of her year-old dishwasher covered with black specks. She called three repairmen to her kitchen, but her dishes were still dirty.
“I looked at a plumber's rear end for about two months this summer sticking out from under my sink,” Wright says. “I was just totally frustrated. I couldn't figure out what was going wrong.”
Finally, after months of aggravation and expense, Wright found out the real reason for her speckled cups: This summer, detergent makers took phosphates out of their detergents.
Seventeen states banned phosphates from dishwasher detergents because the chemical compounds also pollute lakes, bays and streams. They create algae blooms and starve fish of oxygen.
But dirty and damaged dishes are turning many people into skeptics, including Wright.
“I'm angry at the people who decided that phosphate was growing algae. I'm not sure that I believe that,” Wright adds.
This reminds me that satirist P.J. O'Rourke was joking when he wrote this last year:
The next great government crusade will be against soap. The president will appoint a Blue Ribbon Commission, which will determine that soap releases polluting grime into the ecosystem, leads to aquifer depletion, and contains fatty acids that laboratory studies have shown to be acidic and not fat-free…
Big government — it's impossible to parody any more.