Bathing in the Lake – Make the Right Choice1

One of the issues raised at the 2012 AGM was whether bathing in a lake adversely affects its health. During the discussion that followed, it was pointed out that, as a result of Federal Regulation, the concentration of chemical compounds such as phosphates2 in soaps and shampoos has largely been reduced. However, it is incorrect to assume that these products have been rendered environmentally friendly and that they no longer pose a threat to our lakes.

Pure water is comprised of molecules consisting of 2 hydrogen atoms bound to 1 atom of oxygen. Every time something is added to water, it loses some of its purity and instead becomes a dilute solution of those additives. The following is the list of ingredients of a popular brand of shampoo: Water. Sodium laureth sulphate. Sodium lauryl sulphate. Cocamidopropyl betaine. Aloe barbadensis extract. Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) extract. Passionflower(Passiflora incarnata) extract. Cocamide MEA. Dihydroxypropyl PEG-5 linoleaminum chloride. Fragrance. Citric acid. Propylene glycol. Sodium chloride. DMDM hydantoin. Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate. FD&C Yellow No.5. D&C Orange No.4. Ext. D&C Violet No.2.  Is it desirable to introduce such foreign substances into the waters of a natural ecosystem? The answer seems obvious, particularly when you consider that even those natural elements left behind from biodegradable products3 are additives which were not previously present in the water.

All soaps and shampoos, even biodegradable ones, can contaminate fresh water.

If you can’t bathe at the cottage, we recommend that you use a bucket to wash yourself well away (ie: 60 to 70 metres4) from the shore. Doing so will ensure that the majority of the chemical compounds in your biodegradable soap/shampoo will be bound up in the soil and not reach the lake water. Better yet, why not go “soapless” and use a natural “Loofah” sponge to clean yourself. This type of sponge can be purchased in any drugstore for about the price of a cake of soap and can be re-used indefinitely. Brisk rubbing with the sponge, followed by a dip in the lake, will remove dead skin and most of the “offensive” odour, and leave your body feeling tingly and clean – without adding manufactured chemical compounds to the lake. Youʼll be just as clean and the fish will love you.

We like to think that the water in our lakes is comprised of ONLY oxygen and hydrogen. Please help us ensure that this is the case.

A good rule of thumb: if you wouldnʼt drink it, keep it out of our lakes and rivers.
 

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1    This commentary is based on an article presented on the website of the Algonquin Eco Watch Group - www.algonquin-eco-watch.com.

2    Phosphates fertilize our lakes and accelerate their aging, a process referred to as eutrophication.

3    A Note on Biodegradable Products - Being biodegradable simply means that - in the right environment - a product will break down over time. Biodegradable soap requires soil in order to biodegrade - a point not mentioned in most, if not all, advertising. Itʼs OK to use them in your home as they can be processed efficiently by your septic system and at the MRCʼs Septic Waste Treatment Centre in Kazabazua. But donʼt use them in or near our lakes and rivers..

4    As cited by many sources including la Fédération Québécoise du canot et du kayak, Algonquin Eco Watch Group, and the USDA Forest Service.

 

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