Detergents need scrubbing?

The Sierra Club is urging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban certain chemical compounds from being used in household and industrial detergents, saying the toxins are reaching waterways and inducing gender-bending traits in fish.

According to the environmental group, about 400 million pounds of the chemical-laden products are produced in the United States every year. Even at low levels, the chemicals (non-yplphenol and non-ylphenol ethoxylates) cause male fish to produce eggs, disrupting female-to-male fish ratios and their reproduction cycles. Cases of “intersex” fish have been documented in the Potomac River and the Pacific Coast, among other places.

The Sierra Club claims studies have shown rainbow trout, salmon, oysters and winter flounder have been harmed by tiny amounts of the chemicals—less than one part per billion. The group is joined in its petition of the government agency by many others, including the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations.