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Toxic algal bloom continues to suffocate Florida’s Gulf Coast
September 6, 2018
Florida in the United States of America recently declared a state of emergency as a red tide of toxic algae bloomed along its western coastline killing marine animals, disrupting tourism and causing respiratory problems.
Algal blooms, their toxic emissions and the oxygen-starved dead zones they leave in their wake are not new to Florida, nor are they specific to the United States. They are a global phenomenon, and increasingly a global problem.
Coastal algal blooms are often the result of land-based pollution, commonly associated with runoff from fertilizer applications on croplands, or emissions from livestock or human wastewater.
Inefficient use of fertilizer is a major problem: more than half of the synthetic fertilizer ever applied to the world’s fields has been applied in the past 30 years, reports environmental journalist Fred Pearce in an editorial for chinadialogue ocean. Less than half of this fertilizer reaches the crops it’s intended for. The rest runs off into the wider environment and eventually into the ocean.