ARE DETERGENTS AS EQUAL POLLUTANT AS PLASTICS…?

Spoiled your clothes in car greasing or kids spilled juice on the carpet the first assistant you look forward is detergent, all thanks to Proctor Gabriel who composed first ever detergent in 1933 and since then detergent has acquired monopoly in cleaning industry, it seems none other can bear the load of soiled stuff.

Detergents are used in everything from hair shampoo and clothes washing powder to shaving foam and stain removers now here comes the wonder how it is assisting in keeping our treasured belongings free from dirt, it’s all because of its Stoichiometry it facilitates the binding of hydrophobic compounds (like oil and grease) with water this behavior of detergents, is known as amphiphilic which means it is partly hydrophilic tails (polar) and partly hydrophobic heads (non-polar). As a matter of fact detergent attains this behaviour because of added long carbon chain of petroleum compounds which help in lowering the surface tension between two liquids, between a gas and a liquid, or between a liquid and a solid. Detergent molecule dissociates to form sodium or potassium ions and detergent ions. Hydrophilic region dissolve in water, hydrophobic dissolve in grease and emulsifies the grease and when the water is shaken, the detergent ion removes the dirt. The hydrophobic end of the detergent which binds with the dirt or grease is generally made up of hydrocarbons which are extracted from petroleum products, these petroleum products are causing severe damage to environment because it takes millions of years to decompose petroleum it is as equivalent pollutant as plastics because both are made up of heated long carbon chain. Environmental pollution caused by petroleum is of great concern because petroleum hydrocarbons are toxic to all forms of life. The toxicity of hydrocarbons depends upon the nature of the petroleum fraction, the way of exposure to it, and the time of exposure. Chemicals and dispersants in hydrocarbon can cause a wide range of health effects in people and wildlife, depending on the level of exposure and susceptibility. The highly toxic chemicals contained in crude oil can damage any organ system in the human body like the nervous system, respiratory system, circulatory system, immune system, reproductive system, sensory system, endocrine system, liver, kidney, etc. and consequently can cause a wide range of diseases and disorders.

Structure of surfactant
Structure of surfactant

Hydrocarbons in hydrophopic chains of detergents can be replaced with biodegradable hydrophobic compounds or you can say bio-surfactants, an eco-friendly alternative of petroleum based surfactants. Microbes produces these amphiphilic compounds over their tiny living surfaces, which contains hydrophobic and hydrophilic moieties which aids in reduction of surface tension (ST) and reciprocally improves interfacial tensions between molecule to molecule at a given surface coalition. These bio-surfactants are composed of optional anionic or neutral charge and the hydrophilic counterpart is a mixture of carbohydrate, an amino acid, a phosphate group, and some undiscovered compounds. The counterpart hydrophobic moiety in which generally petroleum products are attached in synthetic detergents consists of fatty acid long carbon chain. These molecules reduce surface and interfacial tensions in both aqueous solutions and hydrocarbon mixtures. This property of bio-surfactant makes them potential candidates for enhancing oil recovery a popular threat to the textiles. biological treatment instead of hydrocarbon pollutant may spare from contamination of environment without any by-products, whereas with bonus will efficiently destroy pollutants, as per se its biodegradable themselves. So, compiled here some of the microbes which produces bio-surfactants like rhamnolipids which are produced by different Pseudomonas sp., or the sophorolipids which are produced by several Torulopsis sp. etc.

companies acclaiming as eco-friendly detergent
Companies acclaiming as eco-friendly detergent

Many companies are acclaiming for eco-friendly laundry detergents, which are promising to clean your clothes without harming the environment. Here is an important note to be considered that there’s no such thing as a perfectly “green” detergent. For instance, the harvesting and processing of some plant-based ingredients has a greater overall carbon footprint than traditional petroleum-derived alternatives. And some detergents may be all-natural, but don’t get clothes very clean, better have clean pollution free environment than tidy clothes.

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