More than 1000 ducks died in the winter of 2007 to 2008, according to wildlife officials. Household chemicals may be the culprit.
A study of the deaths was conducted after an abnormally high number of ducks were found dead or dying at waste water treatment facilities in parts of Colorado and the Rocky Mountains, according to the Denver Post.
A long, colder than average winter caused the ducks to seek out the open, warmer, water of the waste water treatment plants. Once there, the ducks came into contact with surfactants, chemicals that break down the surface tension of water. This affected the ducks ability to shed water from their feathers, soaking the bird and causing death from exposure.
Surfactants are found in many common household products, including cleaners and laundry softeners. The type of surfactant found on the birds’ feathers was polyethylene glycol, a compound of “emerging concern” to some regulators, scientists and others, the Post reported.