Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pollution taking heavy toll on Chesapeake Bay

The pollution has taken heavy toll on Chesapeake Bay, nation's largest estuary. The Bay is filled with the large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus coming from sources such as runoff from city streets, fertilizer-laden waters from farmlands and outflows from sewage-treatment plants.

One of the latests studies suggested that this heavy pollution of Chesapeake Bay (and its tributaries) presents major health hazard for the 17 million people who live within its watershed. Scientists are also concerned that the situation in the Bay could become even worse because warm temperatures and increased nutrient pollution will likely turn the bay into a warm pond where algae and bacteria will breed.

In addition to creating algal blooms and feeding bacteria, nitrogen can also contaminate drinking water and increase risk for cancer, spleen hemorrhaging, and nervous system damage in infants.

Water at Chesapeake Bay is not only unsafe for drinking it has even become unsafe to touch it, and the situation is close to reaching a critical point.

The states of Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and New York are mostly responsible for the pollution of the Chesapeake Bay, accounting for almost three quarters of pollution in the Bay. Their current cleaning efforts are far from being enough because U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) threatened them with new rules that could lead to higher sewer bills and stricter conditions on construction unless they cut pollution flowing into the Chesapeake Bay.

Federal and state governments have already spent more than $5 billion trying to clean up the bay that is home to commercial quantities of fish, crabs and oysters but pollution still continues.

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