Friday, March 11, 2011

Phosphorus in our Great Lakes

Did you know Canada..  many news sources are reporting a rise in phosphorus in the Great Lakes and this is endangering the aquatic food chain and our health.

Phosphorus is an oxygen-depleting chemical that also encourages algal blooms with blue-green algae which produce toxins that pose a health risk to people and animals when they are exposed to them in large quantities.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Lake Erie developed these algal blooms and an area of depleted oxygen, referred to as a "dead zone", where levels of oxygen in the bottom waters were too low for fish and other organisms to stay alive. Lake Erie is the shallowest and warmest of the five Great Lakes and likely the reason it's hit the hardest.

There is no specific place we can safely say the phosphorus is coming from - it's like because of many factors including.. inadequate municipal wastewater, agricultural runoff, industrial livestock operations and the impacts of climate change - causing more frequent and intense rainstorms.

The International Joint Commission is urging a renewed effort to get the oxygen-depleting chemical out of the water.

Source: EPA, CBC, UPI, great-lakes.net

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