Fertilizer Runoff Creates Connecticut-Sized ‘Dead Zone’ in Gulf

A so-called dead zone for marine life in the Gulf of Mexico caused in part by fertilizer runoff will be about the size of Connecticut this summer.

That’s according to a forecast by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists released Thursday. At 4,880 square miles, it’s down from a record large one in 2017, but close to the five-year average.

Fertilizer Runoff Creates Connecticut-Sized ‘Dead Zone’ in Gulf

In the dead zone, excess nutrients from fertilizer wash out of farm fields and flow down the Mississippi River into the Gulf, promoting blooms of algae that can kill fish and marine life unable to swim out of the area.

The issue of pollution from farm chemicals is gaining scrutiny this year as American farmers boost plantings of grain and oilseed crops amid surging prices. Nitrates in river discharge are about 32% below the long-term average, according to the estimates.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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