Nutrient Pollution Encircles the Globe
Nutrient pollution, also known as nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, is one of the most pervasive and elusive forms of water degradation in the United States. Within our borders, there are approximately 101,000 miles of nutrient-impaired rivers and streams – a distance great enough to encircle the globe…four times over! These rivers and streams represent only a fraction of the more than 15,000 water bodies across the U.S. that are contaminated by nutrients. When conditions are just right, nutrient pollution fuels overgrowths of algae and cyanobacteria that can wreck ecosystems close recreational areas, decrease property values and threaten public health.
Viewer Tip: Excess nutrients make their ways into our rivers and streams by seeping into our groundwater or catching a ride whenever it rains. At home, nitrogen and phosphorus are found in our fertilizers, septic tanks, laundry detergents, yard waste and pet waste. You can reduce your impact with these tips:
- Smart about Septics – learn how to manage your septic tank properly.
- You’re the Lawn’s Doctor – learn how to fertilize your lawn correctly.
- A Toast to Compost – find out how composting can reduce nutrient pollution.
- Picking Up – learn how pet waste contributes to nutrient pollution.
- Squeaky Clean – learn how to pick out phosphate-free detergents.
(Sources: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2009, “National Summary of State Information:
Causes of Impairment in Assessed Rivers and Streams,” ATTAINS database, Accessed Online July 31, 2012, http://ofmpub.epa.gov/tmdl_waters10/attains_nation_cy.control#STREAM/CREEK/RIVER; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “The Problem,” Nutrient Pollution Website, http://www.epa.gov/nutrientpollution/problem/index.html)