Froth and fires are a common sight in Bengaluru’s lakes after years of pollution from sewage and industrial waste. In January 2018, Bellandur lake, the largest of the 262 lakes in Bengaluru, caught fire and was ablaze for 30 hours continuously. Two weeks later, the lake was on fire again.
It’s not just this one lake. Year after year, Bengaluru’s residents have witnessed the end of many lakes including the Halasuru (Ulsoor) lake and its high time we thought about our contribution to these calamities.
So, how exactly is the urban Bengaluru community responsible for this?
Of the many causes behind the burning of the Bellandur lake, the chemical waste from household products was found to be a primary factor. Almost 40% of the city’s sewage water flows into the lake every day.
Speaking to The Better India, Kshithij Urs, the former executive director of Greenpeace, India, spoke of the ill effects of the phosphate salts commonly found in detergents and how it cannot be eliminated by public or private sewage water treatment plants.
“The test results from these lakes pointed out the presence of chemicals commonly found in our household cleaning products. These chemicals are harming us and the environment equally,” says Kshthij.
Here are some of the usual chemicals found in the household cleaning products
Phenyl in Floor Cleaners: In studies conducted, it was proven that phenyl/phenol commonly found in floor cleaners, acts as a disinfectant, and unnecessarily destroys the good bacteria present in our environment. It can cause severe irritation to the eyes, skin and even asthma. It has also been proven that exposure to phenyl can be extremely risky for children below the age of 5.
Phosphates in Detergents: The phosphates present in our washing agents and detergents are hard particles that cannot be broken down by dissolving in water. Although they are low in toxicity, they have been proven to cause nutrient pollution and cause algae to flourish. For the same reason, phosphates have become one of the primary reasons for lake pollution.
These harmful chemicals also disrupt the pH level of the water bodies, leading to the death of aquatic life.
Harini Nagendra, a professor at Azim Premji University, Bengaluru who has done extensive research on lakes and urbanization says, “At this rate, we will lose all our lakes and will be left with no water bodies. There is an urgent need for the urban community to become aware of the harmful effects of these chemicals in our detergents and cleaners, and make a sustainable switch.”
The sustainable switch that Harini mentions, points towards enzyme and bacteria-based cleaners that do not contain any harmful chemicals and are completely free of phosphates, phenyl and other substances that do not dissolve in water. These cleaners are also safe for the skin and pet-friendly.
Bringing about a sustainable change in your cleaners and detergents may seem like an insignificant contribution but in reality, it can bring waves of change to the environment and the health of your family.
Are you looking for reliable, planet-friendly cleaners? Well, they are now just a click away. Your laundry, dishwashing and floor and toilet cleaning is all set to get safe. Follow this link to know how.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)