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Pollution in the Chesapeake Bay and its effect on the Economy
By Brittany coon

The Chesapeake Bay has always been known for its abundance of crabs and oysters, but over the past few years, the populations of these valuable animals have greatly declined. Pollution and overfishing have certainly contributed to the decline, but what many do not recognize is that this population disturbance also affects the economy. This population decline has significantly affected the salaries and amount of jobs for fishermen. Fortunately there are some things we can do to help turn all of this around.
How the Pollution Gets There

There are two main categories of chemical pollutants that can be found in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries--metals and organics. Mercury is the most common type of metal found in the Chesapeake Bay . Toxic wastes are constantly entering the bay through wastewater, agriculture, storm water, and air pollution. Warmer temperatures accompanied by increasing nutrient pollution have transformed the bay into a warm pond with a combination of different nutrients at the right temperature to breed algae and bacteria. Air pollution affects not only the quality of the air we breathe, but also the land and the water. What goes up must come down; just like anything else, pollutants released into the air will eventually make their way down to other objects below them.
How We Can Help Stop It

In 1987, the District of Columbia , Maryland , Virginia , Pennsylvania , and the Federal Government made an agreement to cut the levels of nitrogen and phosphorus entering the bay by 40 percent by the year 2000. The pollution-reduction agreement was developed to improve and maintain the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay and to promise the productivity of the bay's resources. There have been various pollution-reduction strategies put into place by the many States, such as statewide bans on detergents with phosphorus, control of runoff from urban areas and farmland and pastures, improvements in sewage treatment, and preservation of forests and wetlands, which act as buffers to nutrient-pollution inputs. Personal convenience products such as face creams, deodorants, prescription medicines, and household cleaners work their way down into sewers, storm drains, and eventually enter our watersheds and drinking water. Our consumption habits are one place where we can all make a difference and help improve the health of the world's waterways. Consumers can easily trade off less chemically potent products for daily grooming and cleaning. A growing organic movement has made available a variety of such selections. Organic products are a much better alternative to other types of harsh products. They help preserve the environment and offer less pollution.
How it Affects Everything In and Around the Bay

Almost 30 years after Congress passed the Clean Water Act, water contamination is still linked to rising rates of cancer and autism. Polluters still continue to pour toxins from our modern lifestyle into our estuaries. Even though they are bottom feeders and live underwater, blue crabs need certain levels of oxygen in the water to survive and are threatened by low oxygen conditions. Nutrient pollution also causes algae blooms in the Bay. The bloom process takes the oxygen out of the water, resulting in the deaths of crab, oyster, and fish from low oxygen levels. We must all be aware of our shopping habits, which directly have an effect on the pollution going to these valuable watersheds.
Who's Losing Money Over It All

There is a lot of money going toward helping to recover the Bay and its many tributaries, but it's still going downhill. The fishermen say that if we were to get another disastrous storm like Hurricane Katrina, the Bay would most likely never recover. The annual report given by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation gave the Bay a very low 28 out of 100. If one were to sell approximately 25 bushels of crabs, they would sell for $1,000. Subtracting from that profit would be $400 to $500 in boat costs for the day. Any hired labor would also deduct from one's profit. There would also have to be efficient production and low resell prices or else there would be no profit. Fishermen are losing substantial sums money due to the extremely low oyster and crab populations,.
  1. http://www.chesapeakebay.net/chemicalcontaminants.aspx?menuitem=14692

  2. http://water.usgs.gov/wid/html/chesbay.html

  3. http://www.somdnews.com/stories/07102009/rectop152727_32183.shtml

  4. http://www.chesapeakebay.net/airpollution.aspx?menuitem=14693

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