With more than 30 years’ experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Mark Nelson is a Class 1 Drinking-Water Operator and a CBWA (Canadian Bottled Water Association) Certified Plant Operator. As founder and president of Nelson Water in Ottawa, Mark focuses on dealing with challenging water treatment system designs for problem water. He also heads the largest water bottling plant in the city of Ottawa with a delivery network throughout the Valley.

Many people want to enjoy the benefits of useful products, but they may not be aware of the impact that they have on the environment. There are products that we may use every day that cause water pollution in our lakes, rivers, and streams. Here are three common sources of water pollution that consumers may not be aware of.

Microbead Scrub Products

Microbead scrubs have increasingly become popular as they are now a part of the daily beauty routine for many people. These are found in a variety of hygiene and beauty products, such as body scrub, toothpaste, and facial treatments. Sadly, microbeads represent a significant threat to the environment; they are tiny plastic beads that when flushed away end up in our waterways. Microbeads are made from plastic, so they contain petroleum, which is regarded as a pollutant. Fish can mistake microbeads for eggs and consume them as this damages marine life and threatens the health of humans that may consume the fish. We can all help to reduce the impact that microbeads have on our environment by refusing to use products that contain them as Canada is gearing up for banning these products to be sold.

Under the proposed change to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, new regulations will prohibit the manufacture and import of microbeads starting at the beginning of 2018, with the sales ban starting six months later.  Environment Canada began studying the impacts of plastic microbeads on wildlife and the environment under the previous Conservative government in March 2015. The beads were officially declared toxic in June of 2016.  The sale of shower gels, toothpaste and facial scrubs containing plastic microbeads will be banned effective July 1, 2018.  Microbeads found in natural health products and non-prescription drugs will be prohibited a year later, on July 1, 2019.

Car Washing Detergent

We all want our car to look clean, but car washing detergent products often cause pollution to our water supplies. Also, washing cars at homes contribute grease, oil, brake dust and other contaminants directly into waterways that can harm marine life.

There are car washing alternative products available that are biodegradable and free of petroleum chemicals. However, biodegradable detergent has a compound (surfactant) that can act as a foaming agent which poses a hazard to fish stock by stripping their external mucous layer that provides protection from bacteria and parasites.

Household and Personal Products

Many popular household and personal products contain Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs). These are chemicals, such as parabens, triclosan, and phthalates that are washed into drains and then flow into our waterways and lakes. These chemicals are known to alter hormone levels in birds, mammals, and aquatic life. Studies have also shown that using products containing EDCs can also cause hormonal damage to people. To avoid a potential health issue in the future and to protect our environment, opt for alternative products that don’t contain EDCs.

These were just three of the most common products that are causing water pollution in our environment.

A healthy environment is vital for quality of life and the long term sustainability of communities and if you are concerned with your water, talk to your local CWQA certified water treatment professional.  They should have all the answers you need.