WHAT IS DETERGENT?
Detergents are organic compounds, which have both polar and non-polar characteristics. These tend to exist at phase boundaries, where they associate with both polar and non-polar media. Detergents are of three types if classified: anionic, cationic, and non-ionic. Anionic and cationic have permanent negative or positive charges on their surfaces, attached to non-polar (hydrophobic) C-C chains in the molecules. Non-ionic detergents have no such permanent charge over them; instead, they have a number of atoms which are weakly electropositive and electronegative over their surfaces.
There are two kinds of detergents with different characteristics as listed: phosphate detergents and surfactant detergents.
-Detergents that contain phosphates are highly caustic incurring hard water, and surfactant detergents are very toxic for life.
-The differences are that surfactant detergents are used to enhance the wetting, foaming, dispersing and emulsifying properties of detergents which are used for the purpose of cleansing.
-Phosphate detergents are used in detergents to soften hard water and help suspend dirt in water which makes it better.
NEED FOR DETERGENTS:
Detergents are very vastly used in both industrial and domestic premises like soaps and detergents to wash vehicles. The major entry point into water is via sewage works into surface water also known as outfall sewer. They are also used in pesticide formulations and for dispersing oil spills at sea. The degradation of alkylphenol polyethoxylates (non-ionic) can lead to the formation of alkyl phenols (particularly non alkyl phenols), which act as endocrine disruptors. High phosphate detergents such as tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) can be purchased at some paint and hardware stores as per the feasibility. Regular cleaning with high phosphate detergents has proven to be effective in reducing lead dust. Lead dust accumulates in window wells and around doors or any other friction surfaces.
How does detergents Impact On Water Bodies?
Detergents can have fatal effects in all types of aquatic life if they are present in sufficient quantities, and this includes the biodegradable detergents. All detergents can destroy the external mucus layers that protect the fish from bacteria and parasites; plus they can cause prominent damage to the gills. Most fish will die when detergent concentrations approach fifteen parts per million. Detergent concentrations as low as 5 ppm will kill fish eggs which leads to end of aquatic life. Surfactant detergents are implicated in decreasing the breeding ability of aquatic organisms which can lead to end of their species.
Detergents also add another problem for aquatic life by lowering the surface tension of the water making it hard to overcome the stresses. Organic chemicals such as pesticides and phenols are then much more easily absorbed by the fish. A detergent concentration of only two ppm can cause fish to absorb double the amount of chemicals they would normally absorb, although that concentration itself is not high enough to affect fish directly.
Phosphates in detergents can lead to freshwater algal blooms that release toxins and deplete oxygen in waterways. When the algae decompose, they use up the oxygen available for aquatic life.