Tests find chemicals in the River Erewash

River Erewash, Ilkeston
River Erewash, Ilkeston

TEN times the recommended level of chemicals used in dishwasher detergents have been found in the River Erewash, according to university boffins.

A study published this week has revealed that two chemicals found in dishwasher tablets and powders were present in a sample taken from the river, which flows along Ilkeston’s eastern edge.

Lead researcher Dr Mark Scrimshaw from Brunel University explained that because these chemicals are water soluble and not easy to degrade, they enter rivers via waste water and ultimately make their way into our tap water.

“Although the presence of chemicals in the environment and drinking water does not in itself pose a threat to public health and the environment, there is some concern that the possible effects of long-term exposure to individual chemicals or mixtures of chemicals are not fully understood,” he said.

He added that ‘there were gaps in scientific knowledge about being exposed to these chemicals’.

The study pointed out that the levels of the chemicals – called benzotriazole and tolytriazole – were up to ten times the levels recommended by the Australian Government for the country’s own water supplies.

Samples were also taken from the River Colne near Uxbridge, West London, which contained the same level of chemicals.

Experts then analysed 80 samples of tap water back in London which also contained the chemicals.

Dr Scrimshaw is director of Brunel University’s Collaborative Research Network in Energy and Environmental Sustainability.

He has routinely worked with the UK water industry on removing chemicals which enter waste water treatment works and controlling their discharge into the environment.

The River Erewash is a tributary of the River Trent, occasionally used by Severn Trent Water to supply tap water to homes across the Midlands.