The majority of life on our planet needs oxygen for survival, but in our waterways oxygen levels are reducing. Increases in water pollution including fresh and salt water are creating dead zones all over our planet. The rise in dead zones has been linked to intensive agricultural practices, industrial activities, pollution and rapid population growth.
Dead Zones Uncovered:
Dead zones, also known as hypoxic zones, are areas in oceans and lakes where the oxygen concentration is so low, animal life suffocates and dies. Nutrient pollution from farming is the primary cause of dead zones. Farmers prepare their fields with fertilizers and other harmful chemicals, causing runoff that leads into our waterways. This stimulates an overgrowth of algae, consuming oxygen and depleting the marine life. The greater awareness we bring to dead zones – the quicker we can make the necessary changes to protect our waterways and marine life.
Facts on Dead Zones:
- Scientists have identified 415 dead zones worldwide.
- The majority of the world’s dead zones are located along the eastern coast of the United States, as well as the coastlines of the Baltic States, Japan, and the Korean Peninsula.
- The second largest dead zone in the world is in the northern Gulf of Mexico. It stretches 6500 miles, and is caused by nutrient pollution runoff.
- The Atlantic Coast red algae bloom has been linked to agricultural runoff containing high levels of phosphorus.
- In the United States, heavy use of animal manure and commercial fertilizers in agriculture are the main contributors to dead zones.
- In developing countries untreated wastewater from sewage and industry are also contributors to dead zones.
- The Black Sea dead zone, previously the largest dead zone in the world, largely disappeared between 1991 and 2001 after fertilizers became too costly to use.
How can I make an impact:
Action 1: Global Goodness
- Stop using fertilizers and chemicals on your lawn and gardens. If fertilizers are needed research companies using organic matter that do not include synthetic chemicals.
- Share this information with you neighbors, friends, and family. The more we reduce our chemical and nutrient pollution, as a whole, the quicker we can remediate dead zones.
Action 2: Planet Protector
- All of Action 1
- Lobby your local government to use alternatives to pesticides and fertilizers in your parks and community areas.
Action 3: Earth Angel
- All of Action 1 & 2
- Tell Congress we need increased regulations on commercial farming practices and pesticide use.
- Write a letter to the EPA, asking for revisions in current water quality regulations.