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We Dump Pollution in the Ocean, And It's Making Us Sick

Aug 13, 2016 11:30 PM EDT
Massive Algae Blooms Continue To Plague Florida's Atlantic Coast
Awful smelling algae is seen along the St. Lucie River on July 11, 2016 in Stuart, Florida. The algae which is thought to be coming from Lake Okeechobee as water is released has fouled coastal waterways, created angry communities, closed beaches and has had an economic impact as tourists and others are driven away by the smell and inability to enjoy some of the waterways.

(Photo : Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Earlier this year, images surfaced of toxic algal blooms in Florida, caused by pollution dumped in a lake, making people sick, but there are other issues in the Ocean that are damaging our health.

Toxic algal blooms, the result of nitrogen and phosphorous pollution we dump in various bodies of water after being used on farms, can actually damage the air quality near the coast, in addition to skin and eye irritation.

Unfortunately, as new research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found, Vibrio bacteria, tiny marine organisms capable of causing deadly infections in both human and also fish, are becoming more prevalent in North Atlantic coastal regions as ocean waters warm.

Not only are humans causing the increasing temperatures of the water, we are likely the culprits for the "unprecedented rate" of human infections caused by the tiny marine organisms along the U.S. Atlantic coast and also the coasts of Northern Europe.

Vibrio bacteria are simple organisms, but nonetheless capable of causing critical damage. The bacteria come in many species, some are even responsible for inducing cholera. Another species, Vibrio vulnificus, was described as "highly lethal and...responsible for the overwhelming majority of reported seafood-related deaths in the United States" in a scientific paper.

The vulnificus species of vibrio can not only make us sick through food but can also cause deadly infections to people who swim with cuts or wounds, into which the bacteria can penetrate.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are 80,000 cases of vibriosis in the U.S. annually, the most prominent cause from consuming seafood. Vibrio bacteria also thrive in warmer sea waters, suggesting the risk is greater in the summer when most people are swimming in the water and eating seafood.

Rita Colwell, a microbiologist at the University of Maryland, co-author of the study, and former administrator of the U.S. National Science Foundation, said: "I think the public would not expect that the oceans would have that direct impact on human health."

As humans continue to dump pollution into the ocean and allow global warming to increase unchecked, the ocean will reciprocate by making the masses sick.

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