The three principal areas of environmental impact resulting from car washing are the contamination of surface water, as the substances used to wash the car are rinsed off and drain into local water sources such as rivers; contamination of soil and groundwater, as a result of surface runoff; and the use of water and energy. Washing one's car at home (or at a car-wash fund-raiser in a parking lot) is actually likely to have a greater effect than using a professional car wash, the industry of which has actually made significant strides in reducing its environmental impact. Professional car washes often use water reclamation systems—cleaning and recycling the water used to wash cars to reduce water waste. In some cases this is required by local ...

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