Nutrient Pollution and Algal Blooms: Causes and Solutions - LG Sonic

Nutrient Pollution and Algal Blooms: Causes and Solutions - LG Sonic

nutrient-pollution.jpgHarmful algal blooms (HABs) appear more often, abundant, extensive, and toxic than ever.  Each year, they affect diverse new water areas around the world. Many of these blooms are triggered by increasing nutrient pollution. The dramatic surge in nutrient flow from industrial, urban, and agricultural activities accelerate the eutrophication of lakes, streams, and coastal waters.

Harmful algal species are quickly adapting to the growing nutrient loads. The timing, amount, and proportions of nutrients are the critical factors for HABs expansion. The disbalance in nutrients can accelerate the toxicity of dinoflagellate and cyanobacterial HABs. Changes in climate, environmental, and abiotic conditions due to human activities also inhibit algal growth.

The main nutrients affecting the health of aquatic ecosystems are nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). Algae and aquatic plants rely on these nutrients for their growth naturally. However, excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water tend to trigger extreme HABs growth.

Sources of Nutrient Pollution

The global production of P has increased 18 times since the 1940s. Meanwhile, the production of N grew over sixfold. Hence, is estimated that the annual flow of  P to aquatic systems has tripled, while N has doubled.

Nutrient pollution can occur due to land development, agriculture, aquaculture, and atmospheric nutrient deposition. These increase the amount, alter the proportions and chemical forms of nutrients promoting HABs. 

The expanding human population intensifies food production and wastewater discharge. These are the main contributors to nutrient pollution globally. Anthropogenic activities affecting freshwater and climate change accelerate the impacts on HABs further.