The Impact Of Detergent

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A simple, repeatable experiment done by a third grader in Oakland, CA.

A simple, repeatable experiment done by a third grader in Oakland, CA.

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  • 1. The Impact of Detergent How does laundry detergent affect the growth of plants?
  • 2. Hypothesis • I think when a plant is watered with water that has laundry detergent in it; the plant’s growth will be negatively affected. • I think all the plants watered with laundry detergent and water will die, no matter what type of detergent it is.
  • 3. Procedure • I am planting three pots of violets. I will water one plant with plain water, one plant with a mixture of water & Tide detergent and one plant with a mixture of Trader Joe’s Chemical Free Laundry Detergent and water. • Plant violets in three different pots – Make detergent mixtures – I used 1 cup of soap to 7 cups of water • Set up plants in a sunny location – Water each plant with different water. One with a mixture of Tide, one with a mixture of Chemical Free detergent and one with plain water – Water the same plants with the same water mixture when needed – probably every other day – Take notes every day about the plants: How do they look? Did they grow? Is the soil dry?
  • 4. List of Materials: • 6 violet plants • 3 pots • 1 bag of soil • 1 watering can for plain water • 2 milk jugs to hold the detergent-water mixtures • Tide detergent • Trader Joe’s Chemical Free Detergent • Water • Sun • Journal & Pencil • Cards to label plants for photographs • Camera
  • 5. Day 1 Photos This is the pot that used plain water with This is the pot that This is the pot that no additional used a chemical free used a mixture of Tide detergents detergent from Trader and water (Tide Water) Joes (TJ Water)
  • 6. Results • Day One: I planted the violets in three different pots and water each one with a different water mixture. – Tide plant: 9cm tall, healthy green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Soil moist. – Chemical Free detergent plant: 10 cm tall, healthy green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Soil moist. – Plain water plant: 9 cm tall, healthy green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Soil moist. • Day Two: No change and I did not water the plants because the soil was moist. • Day Three: I watered all three plants because soil was dry. – Tide plant: 7cm tall, plant is sagging; leaves are green and bright yellow flowers. Soil moist after watering. – Chemical Free detergent plant: 10 cm tall, healthy green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Soil moist after watering. – Plain water plant: 10 cm tall, healthy green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Soil moist after watering. • Day Four: I did not water this day. – Tide plant: 4cm tall, plant is dying; leaves are brown and the flowers look dry and shriveled up. Soil moist. – Chemical Free detergent plant: 11 cm tall, healthy green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Soil moist. – Plain water plant: 11 1/2 cm tall, healthy green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Soil moist. • Day Five: I watered all three plants because soil was dry. – Tide plant: 1cm tall, plant is dead; leaves are really brown and dry the flowers look dry and shriveled up. Soil moist after watering. – Chemical Free detergent plant: 12 cm tall, healthy green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Soil moist after watering. – Plain water plant: 12 cm tall, healthy green leaves and bright yellow flowers. Soil moist after watering.
  • 7. The impact After 4 days This is the pot that used plain water with This is the pot that This is the pot that no additional used a chemical free used a mixture of Tide detergents detergent from Trader and water (Tide Water) Joes (TJ Water)
  • 8. Findings • I found out that some detergents effect plant growth. • Tide has ingredients harmful to plants that Trader Joes Chemical Free detergent does not. • I was surprised by how quickly the Tide watered plant died. • My observations tell me that the Chemical Free detergent might be slowing the plant growth down, but I would need to run my experiment longer to be sure. The difference in plant growth is small; the difference would become greater over time if the Chemical Free detergent were slowing the plant growth.
  • 9. Growth Chart
  • 10. Conclusions • The Tide detergent has something in it that is bad for plants. The Chemical Free detergent didn’t have the same effect on the plant. • My hypothesis was not entirely correct because not all laundry detergents will kill plants. • I learned that it is important which laundry detergent we buy and use since the chemicals in the detergent can be very harmful to plants and probably other living things. • Further Research: – My mom and I did more research and we learned that many laundry detergents have petroleum products in them. These are the chemicals that probably killed my plant and are known to hurt fish. I also learned that it is really hard to get all of these petroleum chemicals out of the water when it is at the water treatment plant.
  • 11. Additional Links • http://www.copperwiki.org/index.php/G reen_laundry_detergent • http://www.grist.org/article/its-a- wash/ • http://www.thegreenguide.com/greengui de/home-garden/cleaning/laundry- detergents