The majority of life on our planet needs oxygen for survival. Increases in water pollution including fresh and salt water are creating dead zones all over the planet. The causes of dead zones have been linked to an increase in intensive agricultural practices, industrial activities, 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 into waterways. This stimulates an overgrowth of algae, consuming oxygen and depleting the marine life. The pollution from industrial manufacturing is also a leading cause of ocean dead zones. Here are some additional facts on dead zones.
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, and 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 the main 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 that use organic matter fertilizers that do not include synthetic chemicals.
- Share this information with you neighbors, friends, and family. The more we reduce our chemical and nutrient pollution community wide, 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 stronger regulations on commercial farming practices and pesticide use. Write or call your state congresspeople.
- Write a letter to the EPA, asking for revisions in current water quality regulations.