Monday, January 30, 2012

Pop-able Pollutants Explained

It is best to say that people around the world are finding ways to go green.  We are noticing that most products we consume affects our Earth.  Through observations and experiences we've seen how our future generations are also affected.  One of the common environmental problems is water pollution.  Many water sources are being filled with toxins.  Our lakes, oceans, rivers, streams, and ground water are being contaminated with a toxin known as phosphate (pronounced fos-fate).  This white powdery (in)organic nutrient can be dissolved in water.  Similar to nitrogen, it is commonly found in fertilizers and detergents.  When too much phosphate is being drained into the water, it becomes hazardous.

Courtesy of
When phosphate finds its way into water sources, it begins to feed many organisms.  It fertilizes many of the plants causing an exponential growth of algae, known as algal bloom.

China algae out break.  Courtesy of
 Algae's function in the water system is to collect and provide oxygen in the water. When there is too much algae, two things can happen. 
One:  An excessive amount of oxygen is produced and suffocates aquatic creatures.  
Two:  Sunlight will not reach certain algae to produce energy or nutrients which causes them to die.  As the algae decompose (or die) at the bottom of the water bed, it releases toxins which eliminates the oxygen in the water.  No oxygen means no life for any of the water plants or creatures. 

Can you imagine all the areas affected by algal blooms?

Photo of phosphate.  Retrieved from

Algae Alternative Inc.  (2005).  Laundry detergent ingredients. Retrieved from

City of London. (2012).  Understanding phosphorus, the need for reduction and the effect of too much phosphorus on the environment. [24 January 2012]  Retrieved from

The Associated Press.  (2010).  Big algae bloom expanding off China's east coast.  Retrieved from

Additional Websites:
National Geographic (2010).  World's largest dead zone

Making an algal bloom.

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