Foam escape not a laughing matter

Straits Times Forum 16 Nov 12;

WHILE some may have found the 2km stretch of escaped foam in Choa Chu Kang amusing ("Fiery start, foamy end"; Wednesday), I thought it was alarming.

We should not take it lightly when 40 barrels of detergent- based concentrate, of 200-litre capacity each, send chemicals flowing into our waterway.

Chemical-based detergents contain several types of harmful chemicals such as phenols, phosphates, chlorine bleach, chemical fragrance, dioxane and sodium lauryl/laureth sulphate.

At high concentrations, they are not only environmentally harmful, but can also hurt people.

Although the article said the detergent is bio-degradable and water-soluble, these qualities do not make it safer.

The term bio-degradable is so widely used in marketing a product these days that it leads consumers to believe that anything bio-degradable is good.

Most people do not ask how long it takes for something to bio-degrade.

These are some unanswered questions pertaining to the foam escape:

What kind of detergent was it?

What were the chemicals and and their concentration levels?

Which was the company or factory responsible?

I also hope that no children were playing with the foam. Children, unlike adults, do not have the ability to detoxify toxins very effectively.

Roy Kee