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Environmental concerns

Phosphates in detergent became an environmental concern in the 1950s and the subject of bans in later years. Phosphates make laundry cleaner but also cause eutrophication, particularly with poor wastewater treatment.
A recent academic study of fragranced laundry products found “more than 25 VOCs emitted from dryer vents, with the highest concentrations of acetaldehyde, acetone, and ethanol. Seven of these VOCs are classified as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) and two as carcinogenic HAPs (acetaldehyde and benzene).
The EEC Directive 73/404/EEC stipulates an average biodegradability of at least 90% for all types of surfactants used in detergents. The phosphate content of detergents is regulated in many countries, e.g., Austria, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, USA, Canada, and Japan.