tsp all purpose cleaners
Photo: Courtesy of Steve Loughead
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Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

Old formulations of cleaning solutions, household-cleaner additive

Up until the 1960s, TSP was the key ingredient in most household cleaning solutions, especially for tough jobs like cleaning siding and concrete. It has been banned in many states but is still sold in some places as a degreaser. TSP is also sold as an additive for cleaning products because it is no longer included in modern formulations. In fact, the EPA still recommends the product for removing lead paint dust because it binds with lead and turns it into lead phosphate—though lead phosphate is now under scrutiny as a possible carcinogen. But mainly ecological concerns have led to a decrease in the use of TSP; phosphates, the main ingredient in fertilizer, can lead to the depletion of oxygen levels in water. In humans, concentrated amounts of the chemical cause difficulty breathing, swell the throat, can lead to vision loss, and can burn the skin.
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