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Is beer toxic to Puget Sound?

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Recently spotted in Grist.org: SoundCitizen founder Rick Keil and new PSP Science Panel member Tracy Collier weigh in— Is it OK to pour beer down the drain?

glass of beerIn this age of environmental consciousness, the question was bound to come up. Just about everything humans create seems to be toxic to the environment. What about beer?

Not that you’d want to pour beer down the drain (say it isn’t so), but for the sake of argument, imagine that you have an old, stale six-pack sitting in the back of the fridge. You don’t want to drink it, so what should you do with it? What’s the environmentally responsible approach?

Grist posed this question to Rick Keil, who in addition to being the founder of SoundCitizen (now headquartered at the Center for Urban Waters) is also a professor of chemical oceanography at the University of Washington. He says not to worry. “While it is indeed a tragedy that the beer is undrinkable, there is no risk in pouring it down the drain,” he tells Grist. “The organic substances in beer can be pretty quickly utilized as energy sources by microbes and algae, so while you might be causing some nutrient pollution, it’s not likely to have a lasting impact, unless we are talking about a tanker truck full of beer.”

PSP Science Panel member Tracy Collier, who for his part specializes in environmental toxicology, was also interviewed (Puget Sound scientists being the apparent “go-to” source on beer), and he agreed: “There are a lot of things you should not pour down your drain, things that can harm our waters and the living resources that depend on them, but beer is not one of them.”

The article points out that there are probably better and more imaginative uses for old beer. Grist notes that beer can also be used to “attract butterflies, repel slugs, polish copper pots, remove carpet stains, wash your hair, trap fruit flies…some gardeners also swear by beer as a compost additive or, in diluted form, a lawn fertilizer.”

Source: Ask Umbra from Grist.org. See the full article at: http://grist.org/green-living-tips/ask-umbra-is-it-ok-to-pour-beer-down-the-drain/