Algal blooms leave industries wilting, but seaweed could save ...

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Algal blooms leave industries wilting, but seaweed could save the day

It will go a long way towards mitigating waste, say experts, but needs huge investment

Virginia Gewin

In May 2019 the Mississippi River dumped a daily average of more than 5,000 metric tons of nitrate and 800 metric tons of phosphorous into the Gulf of Mexico, the highest levels in the past 40 years. These excess nutrients from Midwest farm fertiliser and animal waste rob the waters off Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas of oxygen, fuelling toxic algal blooms and causing what’s come to be known as a dead zone.

The size varies each year, but this particular patch’s five-year average hovers at about 13,000km2. To date, a US government task force has made little if any progress towards the goal of reducing it to 5,000km2.

For environmental experts the problem seems intractable. Known as eutrophication, dead zones are proliferating all over the globe. There are now more than 700 coastal areas worldwide that are either dead zones or negatively impacted by runoff. While the US suffers mostly from agricultural waste, urban wastewater is the main culprit in South America, Asia and Africa...

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