Enter the dead zones

The volume of hypoxic zones, also called “dead zones”, in the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay are expected to be record-setting this summer according to a University of Michigan researcher.

Hypoxia refers to the loss of oxygen in water, which then leads to unsustainable conditions for aquatic plants and animals. The widening of Gulf of Mexico hypoxia is blamed for the recent massive flooding of cities and farms in the Mississippi River basin.

“The growth of these dead zones is an ecological time bomb. Without determined local, regional, and national efforts to control them, we are putting major fisheries at risk.”

The researcher said the best way to shrink the dead zones is to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorous flowing into these water basins.

This suggestion of course raised the ires of the fertilizer industry. The Fertilizer Institute (TFI) said they are not entirely to blame for the growing hypoxic zones in the reported areas, according to an ICIS News article (subscription needed to access this one).

TFI said they recently increased their efforts in reaching out to farmers to cut back water pollution.

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