Chemistry: At Last, A Disappearing Detergent

When rivers in the U.S. and Europe began to billow with evil-looking foam and tap water frothed like lager beer, the blame was quickly pinned on the synthetic detergents in modern cleaning agents. They wash shirts gleaming white and they make dishes shine, but the bacteria that swarm in soil and sewage do not eat them with the same appetite they have for old-fashioned soap. Rejected by the bugs, the detergents sweep through sewage plants and seep out of septic tanks into the ground water. They are not poisonous, but who likes...

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