The Toxic Water Trouble

Image of water drain and toxic water with green algae

Toxic Blue- Green algae has been around for millions of years. But they have been popping up more often. It has been happening all over the US but more so in agricultural areas where is the use of phosphorus-based fertilizers is prolific.

Phosphorus is the known driver for Blue-Green algae, however researchers have uncovered another, relatively surprising, source of phosphorus that also appears to be driving the toxic algae growth to unprecedented levels — glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide. Glyphosate is a synthetic phosphonate herbicide and is the most heavily used agricultural chemical of all time.

“[W]hen blue-green algae reach bloom densities, they can actually reduce light penetration, which can adversely affect other aquatic organisms both directly (e.g., other phytoplankton and aquatic plants) and indirectly (e.g., zooplankton and fish that depend on phytoplankton and plants) … When a blue-green algae bloom dies off, the blue-green algae cells sink and are broken down by microbes.

This breakdown process requires oxygen and can create a biological oxygen demand. Increases in biological oxygen demand result in decreases in oxygen concentration in the water, and this can adversely affect fish and other aquatic life, and can even result in fish kills.”

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