Environment: Dirty Detergents?

Clumsy or not, the word that describes the fate of countless U.S. lakes and rivers is eutrophication: "the process of becoming richer in dissolved nutrients." In this case, wealth often equals death.

The trouble is that both natural and man-made nutrients (phosphates, nitrate, carbon, iron, calcium) are ending up in bodies of water where they fertilize prodigious growths of algae. As the algae decompose, they use up enormous quantities of oxygen. Fish die; the water looks and tastes so bad that other chemicals have to be added to make even potable water palatable for human use. Finally, a lake turns...

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