What are phosphates ?


Phosphates are the natural form in which the element phosphorus (P) is found in living organisms, ecosystems and rocks. They consist of phosphorus combined with oxygen: the Basic building block is orthophosphate, PO4.

fleurs.jpgPhosphorus (P) is essential for all living organisms: man, animals and plants. Phosphates are central to the structure of bones and teeth, to DNA (genetic material), photosynthesis in plants, many proteins, and for the transfer of energy within cells, and so to all body functions in particular nerve and brain cells and muscles.

enfants.jpgPhosphates are naturally present in food and the minimum intake requirement for adults is approx. 0.8gP/day. Phosphates are also added both to animal feeds and to certain baby foods to improve their nutritional value.

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The phosphate used widely in detergents is sodium tripolyphosphate (the mineral salt sodium combined with three phosphate blocks).

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Tripolyphosphates are found naturally in many organisms. In wash water, sewers or natural waters, detergent phosphates break down to simple orthophosphates, just as do phosphates from human and animal wastes, food wastes and other organic materials. They can here be recycled into agriculture, biomass production or industry.

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dry.jpgPhosphates have been used in detergents for over 50 years. Their introduction enabled the development of efficient modern detergents, and consequently of laundry washing machines and dishwashers. Phosphates both ensure that detergent cleaning agents can act effectively (builder function), but also ensure directly a number of different cleaning roles themselves. Because of this multi-functionality, phosphates are one of the most effective detergent components available today.

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