Phosphate pollution Unit

Pollution

Phosphatepollution

Unit

Phosphate(P) is a common environmental pollutant. Although it is a naturallyoccurring mineral needed for plant and animal development, excessiveamount of this mineral is harmful. Majority of P pollution affectswater, soil and human body.

Thereare two sources of phosphate pollution organic and inorganic.Inorganic sources comprise of manmade such as chemicals. Majority ofhousehold cleaning agents and kitchen waste contribute to asignificant amount of P in the environment. Organic P is excretedfrom the body which is found in huge amounts in sewage treatmentplants. The human body excretes about 200-1000 grams of phosphorous.When the sewage water finds its way to other water bodies or land, Ppollution results (EPA 2014).

Inwater, high phosphate content leads to eutrophication and decreasesoxygen levels in water (hypoxia). Eutrophication is a naturalresponse by the ecosystem to high phosphate content in water which ischaracterized by growth of toxic algae and bacteria that makes waterunsafe for agriculture, domestic use and also affects the ecosystem.The excessive growth of plants underwater poses a threat to aquaticanimals as they compete for oxygen. In rivers and water ways,excessive plant growth in water impedes water flow. In short, high Pcontent leads to imbalances in the aquatic ecosystem (EPA 2014).

ExcessiveP in the body is harmful. It causes a condition calledHyperphosphatemia. This condition has no symptoms though it is linkedwith weak bones and elevated blood pressure. Interestingly, a loweramount of calcium can also have negative effects in the body.

Toaddress P pollution, there is need to reduce P content in fertilizersand household detergents. As a highly reactive chemical, otherelements and metal ions can be used to react and trap phosphate.Biological methods have also been used where plants and animals thatconsume high P are introduced in polluted areas.

References

EPA(2014). Nutrientpollution.Retrieved from http://www2.epa.gov/nutrientpollution/problem

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