People escape ‘toxic foam’ blowing through streets after freak chemical reaction in river

Hazardous foam has blown through the streets of a Columbian town, after detergents were dumped into a nearby river causing an unusual chemical reaction

A woman fleeing from the polluting foam generated by a river full of waste, at the entrance of her house, in Mosquera
A woman fleeing from the polluting foam generated by a river full of waste, at the entrance of her house, in Mosquera

Residents have been running from mountains of “toxic foam” caused by a freak chemical reaction in a river.

The foam blew through the streets of a town called Mosquera, not far from Colombia’s capital city, Bogota.

The strange reaction was largely a result of people dumping detergents into the nearby Balsillas river, said local authorities.

The fast-flowing waters of the river, made more intense by recent heavy rain, also played a part, they added.

The putrid foam includes surfactants and phosphates, which are also commonly found in household detergents and which cause foaming when mixed with water.

The end result is a foam ripe with chemicals and pollutants.

Now, residents have been told to be careful with detergents to stop more toxic foam forming.

The foam was caused by people dumping detergents in the river, authorities said



Edwin Garcia, director of the Ambiental Environmental Laboratory, said: “It is important to clarify that one of the main generators of this foam is detergents.

“This is why the community and companies are asked to make very rational use of these products, which are the cause of foam generation.

“The contact with turbulent water and the high precipitations generate this phenomenon in the water.”

Locals are concerned about the possible health effects of the foam


AFP via Getty Images)

This has actually been an ongoing problem for the people of Mosquera despite authorities building a wastewater treatment plant two years ago.

Locals are extremely concerned about the foam, not only with regards to their own health but also the knock-on effect that it has on their town and its businesses.

Luis Eduardo Romero, a local shop owner, said: “Health, that’s the problem.

“The foam affects everything, for example foam falls on the doors and everything rots.

“How [bad] would it be with the food that we sell here.”

Locals are worried about how the foam could affect their businesses



Images from Mosquera show walls of shops and homes caked in the pungent white foam.

Many people have been seen in dramatic images trying to sweep the foam from inside their homes.

Others have been forced to abandon their residences altogether.

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