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Reducing Phosphorus Pollution

Laws to reduce phosphorus

Restrictions on turf fertilizers containing phosphorus

On April 15, 2011, Governor Christine Gregoire signed into law ESHB 1489 which, with some exceptions, prohibits the display and retail sale of turf fertilizers that contain phosphorous, and the use of such fertilizers on turf.

Visit the Washington Department of Agriculture website for more detailed information and frequently asked questions.

Reducing phosphorus in detergents

Phosphorus in detergents is and has been a problem for Washington State and its waters. Laundry detergent containing phosphorus has been banned since 1994. Major manufacturers in the United States made the switch in laundry soaps to help keep waters clean. The same is true for automatic dishwasher soaps as of July 1, 2010, when Washington retailers were required to sell only low- and no-phosphate automatic dishwasher detergents for residential use. The new law also went into effect in 16 states on that date.

Unfortunately, some imported soaps, sold illegally, contain high levels of phosphorus. These soaps are costly to treat and contribute to pollution in our waters. So whether it is laundry soap or dishwasher soap, make the switch now to cleaner and safer alternatives.



One pound of phosphorus can grow 700 pounds of algae.

Source: Historical Perspective of the Phosphate Detergent Conflict,
Chris Knud-Hansen, 1994.

In 1994: Washington State made it illegal to sell laundry detergents containing more than 0.5% phosphorus by weight and dishwashing detergents containing more than 8.7%.

Beginning July 1, 2008: In Spokane and Whatcom Counties it became illegal to sell dishwashing detergent containing 0.5% phosphorus or more by weight.

In July 2010: The amount of phosphorus allowed statewide will be no more than 0.5%.

Washington State law regarding the phosphorus content in dishwashing detergent.


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Last updated June 2013