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What Are We Going Do About All This Phosphate?

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Anna Yeghiazaryan
Ms. Cook
Honors Chemistry
10 May 2015
What Are We Going to Do About All This Phosphate?
Water pollution is a very real problem that countries all around the world are facing. This contamination typically comes from either domestic origin or industrial waste. Many measures have been taken in order to prevent water pollution but most methods are costly and inefficient. One of the most common types of chemical pollution in waters is phosphate contamination. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Gulf of Mexico is a prime example of water that has extremely high levels of phosphate and it comes to no surprise that it has detrimental effects its environment. The effects of phosphate contamination
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The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explains that if this trend of eutrophication continues, what is known to be a “dead zone” will be created.
According to the NOAA, the northern Gulf of Mexico is the second largest dead zone in the United States. The Gulf of Mexico is officially recognized as a hypoxic, or dead zone, because it has less than 2 ppm dissolved oxygen in accordance to the Microbial Life Education Resource’s website. The source of the gulf’s extensive pollution is from the Mississippi River which captures the runoff of 31 states and then flows right into the gulf, making it a hotspot for extremely high concentrations of sediment, nitrogen, phosphorus, and chemical pollutants (EPA “Gulf of Mexico”). Unfortunately for us, “The Gulf of Mexico is a major source area for the seafood industry…[and] if the hypoxic zone continues or worsens, fishermen and coastal state economies will be greatly impacted” says Monica Bruckner, a professor at Montana State University. This means that there is an economic factor that plays into the pollution of phosphates and there are nearby economies that depend of certain marine harvests to be able to support themselves. Consequently, if all the animals are either dead or have migrated away, then there will be no harvests at all and many companies will become bankrupt and forced to close down, leaving thousands of people unemployed.
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