DishesThe face of our national nightmareHere’s the newest way attempts to save the planet are pissing off Fox News: Because of laws to limit phosphorus pollution, some people now find it marginally more inconvenient to do the dishes. WHAT ABOUT OUR FREEDOMS?

You can’t clean water with a sponge: Here’s what the EPA says about phosphorus:

Nutrient pollution, especially from nitrogen and phosphorus, has consistently ranked as one of the top causes of degradation in some U.S. waters for more than a decade. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus lead to significant water quality problems including harmful algal blooms, hypoxia and declines in wildlife and wildlife habitat. Excesses have also been linked to higher amounts of chemicals that make people sick.

Contains no elbow grease: The objection is that low-phosphate detergents don’t get dishes quite as sparkling clean with quite as little effort as the old formulations with more phosphorus. Because who can care about healthy waterways when you have a smudge on your champagne flute?

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Not a flash in the dishpan: The harmful effects of phosphorus are not news. Many states moved to reduce phosphorus in household products like laundry soap in the 1970s, but back then dishwashers weren’t in wide use. Upshot: Dishwashing detergent, with its unregulated phosphorus levels, now accounts for up to 34 percent of the phosphorus in municipal wastewater.

Zero stars out of four: Fox News seems to have used customer product reviews as a jumping-off point for this story. This is of course an excellent journalistic source, which is why my planned feature on Three Wolf Moon is going to win a Pulitzer. It leads one to imagine the sorts of quotes they might get from the other side, for Fairness and Balance: “‘Dead plant buildup was making me look prematurely aged, but low-phosphate detergents made it better!’ said one relieved local body of water. ‘Finally my home is clear of suffocating algae, and I can breathe again!’ said a duck.”

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.