Phosphates are used in agriculture as well as other applications such as in laundry and cleaning products as builders to soften hard water and increase cleaning performance. Not only is phosphorous a finite resource which may soon be depletedii, it is also a cause for environmental concern. Phosphorous is used by plants as a fertilizer, attaining to its wide use in agriculture. This can pose a problem when phosphorous gets into waterways and causes an increase in certain algae or even 'bloom' events. Algae overabundance absorbs a higher proportion of oxygen from the water, which in turn reduces the amount of essential oxygen available for other aquatic animals. The problem with disturbing the marine ecosystem in this way becomes much larger than just killing off a few fish. Marine food webs are far more intricate and delicate than those on land, which means that even the smallest changes in dynamics can cause rapid and hugely detrimental consequencesiii. At ecostore, we use non-phosphate builders in our laundry products that do not have any associated environmental concerns.
ii) The phosphate life-cycle: rethinking the options for a finite resource.
iii) Human Impact on Erodable Phosphorus and Eutrophication: A Global Perspective