This Saturday, April 20 in support of Earth Day, the Vancouver Aquarium is joining Whole Foods Market and Aspen Clean at the Whole Foods Market in West Vancouver to educate the public about the impact that chemicals in cleaning products can have on aquatic life, and how people can help to reduce these effects. Aquarium educators will be at the store from 12:30 – 3:30 p.m. More details about the event can be found here.

Many household cleaning products contain chemicals that are harmful to humans, our environment, and aquatic life. These chemicals get into our streams, rivers and oceans through our drains and storm sewers. Once chemicals enter bodies of water, they can take a long time to break down, and some do not break down at all.

Chemicals that persist in waterways can cause health problems in aquatic life, and through the food chain can also influence life on land, including humans. When aquatic life such as fish ingest chemicals, their toxicity level increases. These toxins are then passed to land animals that eat them.

By making conscious purchasing decisions, we can help to prevent pollutants from entering aquatic environments and harming wildlife and humans. Next time you go to the store to purchase cleaning supplies:

Look for environmentally preferable products by using these resources:

  • Database of Environmental Information for Products and Services: Provides categories of products and any potential harm they may cause the environment, as well as links to sustainable vendors that supply the product.
  • EcoLogo:  Third-party certification of environmentally preferable products.
  • Green Seal:  Uses a life-cycle approach to evaluating products for their environmental effects. Products receive a Green Seal label after rigorous testing and an on-site audit.

Avoid using products containing chemicals with toxic ecological and environmental effects, such as:

  • Chlorinated Phenols
  • Nonylphenol Ethoxylates or Alkylphenol Ethoxylates
  • Xylene
  • Bleach (Sodium hypochlorite)
  • Phosphates

Review the cleaners’ Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) to determine if it is toxic to environment and wildlife. All chemical products have Material Safety Data Sheets, which are forms that summarize all the properties of a particular substance. To locate these sheets look on the websites of suppliers /manufacturers, or contact the manufacturer directly.

To learn more, be sure to visit the Aquarium’s educational display at Whole Foods Market, West Vancouver this Saturday, and connect with one of our educators. To learn more about the Aquarium’s green programs, visit here.


Happy Earth Day!

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