Environment: Suffolk Bans Detergents

Like most rural areas, Long Island's Suffolk County has no major sewer system and, except in the largest towns, cannot afford to build one in the near future. Because Suffolk's 1,200,000 residents depend on backyard cesspools and septic tanks, household wastes that do not break down in nature­especially detergents­eventually seep into the underground water supply. As a result, more and more drinking water flows out of the tap with a smelly foam that tastes awful and perhaps affects human health.

Last week the Suffolk County legislature took a step unprecedented in the U.S. It banned the sale of virtually all detergents used...

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