Fish killing pot scrubbers
Note: This specific story below may be an urban legend. Despite that fact, I still have an issue with the widespread use of general antibiotics. All they really do is help to breed antibiotic resistant bacteria -- this means that when we really need that antibiotic protection, it's less likely to be effective (or likely to be less effective)

As such, I still strongly recommend that people avoid consumer products with antibiotics added.
(and, yes, these sorts of products do exist... I just recently bought one by mistake (didn't stop to read the package first)).

I've thought you could be interested by this info. For you and your pets. Kisses and hugs. Bernard Blanc.
Subject: [alert] Re: Fwd: Agent Orange in Dishwashing Sponges?
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 10:46:20 +0800
From: "Christine Srikala" <>

NOTE: Alot of products we use in home are not biodegradable, as in, it cannot be broken down so as to be recycled or destroyed. Some of these products are harmful to the crops, and other living animals. However man continue to use them. So, how can these problems be solved?


On the issue of consumer protection and hazardous warnings, here's a new one, I think. Those yellow sponges with the green plastic fibers on the back for scrubbing pots -- "Pot Scrubbers" -- should be kept far away from our birds, fish, reptiles, cats and dogs, hamsters and whatevers.

Proctor & Gamble, in its continuing search to make America / World look clean and smell great, has a new "improved" version of the sponge on the market that kills odor-causing fungi that get in the sponge after a few uses.

They make a big deal out of this innovation on the outside packaging.

A friend of mine used one of these sponges to clean the glass on a 200-gallon aquarium. The abrasive backs are good for removing algae and smutz that collect on the inside of the tank. He refilled the tank and after the water had time to condition and rid itself of chlorine, he reintroduced his tropical fish collection of some 30 fish. Within five hours of putting the fish back in the tank, they were all dead! Some began to die after only 30 minutes. He removed the survivors to another tank but they all died. Retracing his steps to clean the tank, the only thing that was different was using that new kind of sponge -- he'd used the regular old Pot Scrubbers for years.

Lo and behold I discovered on the back of the packaging in about the finest print you could put on plastic a description of the fungicide in the sponge and the warning in tiny bold-face letters, "not for use in aquariums. keep away from other pets."

Thanks for warning Proctor & Gamble.

It seems the fungicide is a derivative of the systemic pesticide-herbicide, 2-4-D, more popularly known as Agent Orange (see also here), the chemical we sprayed all over Southeast Asian during the Vietnam War that many veterans and war refugees say did them permanent damage to their lungs and nervous systems. The package warning goes on to say they fungicide cannot be washed from the sponge even if it is placed in the dishwasher (in which case Agent Orange is now all over your dishes and drinking glasses). And, if you think its there to kill disease-causing bacteria like Salmonella from contaminated chicken meat, think again -- it's not an effective enough bactericide to kill those kind of bugs.

I called P&G to register a complaint and told them I'd never use their products again because I couldn't trust what they were putting in them.

By the way, the same chemical in the sponge is used now in many of those popular anti-bacterial, anti-viral disinfectant liquid soaps and hand cleaners that are flooding the market. Don't buy that poison and warn your friends as well.

Author: Stephen Samuel (
Curator: Stephen Samuel (
Last Updated: Mon Aug 26, 1996
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May be an urban legend