What is nutrient pollution? Causes, impacts and mitigation

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Pollution is the introduction of substances or other physical elements into an environment that render it unsafe or unfit for use. Contaminants can be chemical or energetic.


What is nutrient pollution?

Nutrient pollution refers to any excess nitrogen and phosphorus in water bodies. This type of pollution has many causes. In some cases, nutrient pollution is the result of natural processes, such as the erosion of rocks and the mixing of ocean currents. However, the most common causes are due to human activities, such as soil erosion from agriculture, rainwater runoff in cities, and daily activities in factories.

Causes of Nutrient Pollution

Chemical fertilizers containing nitrogen and phosphorus are used on plants, often in excess, to help them grow. However, these nutrients often reach water bodies through runoff and seep into groundwater. Through the evaporation of ammonia, it also evaporates into the atmosphere. In addition, the boom in animal production has led to an increase in the amount of manure. Although compost can be used as a natural fertilizer for plants, it also ends up in water through runoff and runoff.

Aquaculture, the practice of aquaculture using controlled methods, can also contaminate nutrients. The fish are usually kept in cages or cages in closed bays. These farms produce a large amount of nitrogen and phosphorus from uneaten fodder, manure and other forms of organic waste.

In developing countries, when wastewater is treated, the primary goal is to remove solids, not nutrients; Therefore, nutrient contamination persists after handling. And in developed countries, sewage systems filter wastewater by dispersing it through the ground into nearby aquifers and surface waters. Stormwater runoff is another cause of pollution; During rains, rainwater from cities is discharged into nearby rivers and streams. Other sources of industrial nutrient pollution are paper and paper mills, meat and food processing plants, and emissions from cargo ships.

Impacts of Nutrient Pollution

Nutrient pollution is detrimental to the environment, destroying water quality, destroying ecosystems and disrupting plant and animal species. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus causes algae to grow faster than the ecosystem can support, resulting in the growth of algal blooms. These algae produce toxins that are harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms.

Algal blooms are also harmful to the ecosystem as they prevent sunlight from reaching plants, preventing them from growing. Additionally, these flowers cause dead zones in the water, which reduces the availability of oxygen for aquatic life. Nutrient pollution in the atmosphere causes acid rain that damages waterways, forests and grasslands. It increases the acidity of water bodies, is deadly to aquatic life, and dissolves important nutrients that plants and trees need to survive, such as magnesium and calcium. Nutrient pollution in the air also contributes to the formation of other air pollutants.

Nutrient Pollution Mitigation

Reducing nutrient pollution is essential. In the European Community, the Environmental Protection Agency combats nutrient pollution by encouraging stakeholder cooperation and monitoring regulatory programs. As part of a regulatory program, the Environmental Protection Agency reviews and approves state water quality standards.

EPA also conducts outreach activities by developing community materials to raise awareness of the issue, communicating the latest scientific information to interested parties, and conducting outreach programs.

The EPA also develops partnerships and provides states with technical guidance and resources to help them develop water quality standards for nitrogen and phosphorus.

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