Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biological Sciences (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Biological Sciences

Advisor 1

Casey Huckins

Committee Member 1

Amy Marcarelli

Committee Member 2

Nancy Auer

Committee Member 3

Kari Henquinet


Across the globe, synthetic detergents are commonly used in everyday life (Azizullah et al. 2011). In rural Zambia, washing often occurs directly in the streams where each individual washing effort becomes a point source of pollution; discharging a suite of chemicals as well as particulates into the waterways. Although organophosphates have been banned for use in laundry and dish detergents throughout much of the developed world; many parts of the developing world have yet to follow suit. A system of weak environmental regulations and a lack of enforcement of those that do exist have left water quality in much of the Southern African nation of Zambia, a country the size of Texas, essentially unregulated. Further, the use of non-phosphate based detergents may also pose a risk to aquatic communities as components such as surfactants, the foaming agents in soaps and detergents, are known to be toxic to some organisms and have yet to have significant legislation enacted to regulate their use. In a survey of Kalichero community, Eastern Province, Zambia, 56.7% of respondents stated they use nearby water bodies to wash their clothing. Since detergents are known to be toxic in aquatic environments, the goal of this study was to understand possible impacts to benthic aquatic macroinvertebrates in Chisitu stream. Field data collected in 2014 from Chisitu stream suggest a relationship between the number of macroinvertebrate families present at a washing site and the distance downstream from the nearest upstream washing site (r2= 0.49). Comparison of taxa richness from pre and post washing sampling revealed a reduction (-0.9 ± 0.27) in the number of families present in the wash reach of the Phiri site. In the laboratory at Michigan Technological University, acute toxicity tests were conducted using two detergents, Omo and Boom, which are readily available in Kalichero community. These tests produced median lethal concentrations (LC50) of 17.87 mg/L and 25.19 mg/L for Omo and Boom, respectively. These estimated thresholds can be used as baselines for further research in this area and in the compilation of a recommendation for Kalichero community to reduce the amount of detergent entering Chisitu stream.