Posted on: April 7, 2009 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

South Africa. Deposits of white foam have collected around a section of the Sandspruit River in Katherine Street in Sandton.

The white foam, which had the same appearance as soap suds from a detergent, has formed walls about 1.5m tall, especially around fast-flowing water.

According to reports, there has been an absence of wildlife around the river since the appearance of the foam.

A spokesperson for Johannesburg Water reported that there have been complaints about factories in neighbouring Wynberg dumping contaminants into the river.

Paul Fairall, a wetlands and riparian(of or relating to or located on the banks of a river or stream) expert, believes that a washing powder factory in Wynberg is responsible.

Mr Fairall reported that the factory would regularly wash out their solphonic acid tanks into drains that filter into the Sandspruit River.

Solphonic agent is the foaming agent of washing powders, and according to Fairall, the agent will kill any kind of living organism and the high concentration has damaging after effects.

Detergents also contain large amounts of phospate which cause the growth of blue-green algae that may be toxic.

Dr Paul Oberholster, CSIR research group leader in ecosystems and human health, believes that if the contaminant is from a detergent, the chemical structure of the water will be changed through either raising or lowring the pH.

As a result, the entire ecosystem could be affected as some species have a specific pH tolerance.

Source: The Star