The rationale for a ban on detergent phosphate in the Great Lakes Basin

Ciba Found Symp. 1977 Sep;(57):269-84. doi: 10.1002/9780470720387.ch15.


Immediate reduction of phosphorus loadings to the Great Lakes is essential to slow accelerated eutrophication. The Great Lakes National Program Office of the US Environmental Protection Agency now advocates adoption of bans on detergent phosphates as the most practical and feasible means of immediately reducing the phosphorus loadings to the Great Lakes. This change in policy from previous reliance on removal by sewage treatment has been adopted for the following reasons: (1) Bans on phosphates will reduce capital and operating costs of treatment and, were adopted, have met with consumer acceptance. (2) In practice, treatment plants have not met design expectations for phosphate removal. (3) Neither nitrilotriacetic acid nor other substitutes for phosphates have proved to be a public health problem. (4) Reduction of phosphorus loadings to treatment plants avoids increasing levels of chlorides and total dissolved solids in effluents. (5) Water quality has improved in small lakes with phosphorus reduction. In summary, detergent phosphate bans alone will not reduce phosphorus loadings to the Great Lakes sufficiently for the long term but the Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that such action is necessary in addition to continued efforts to control non-point sources.

MeSH terms

  • Detergents*
  • Eukaryota
  • Eutrophication
  • Government Agencies
  • Great Lakes Region
  • Legislation as Topic
  • Phosphates / adverse effects*
  • United States
  • Waste Disposal, Fluid
  • Water Pollution, Chemical / prevention & control*


  • Detergents
  • Phosphates