The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is mostly to blame for the dead zone’s growing size in the Gulf. Scientists now say that the dead zone is the size of Connecticut – a startling 5,052 square miles. The dead zone started forming, though, in our own backyards.
A joint NOAA-EPA statement announced that scientists supported by the agencies have mapped the oxygen-poor dead zone between July 27 and August 2, 2014. This is within the predicted area that was forecast of between 4,633 and 5,708 square miles based on NOAA models.
How do we contribute to the dead zone? Phosphorous and nitrogen fertilizers, pesticides, and other chemicals that we use to encourage plant growth wash into rivers and streams. Streams and rivers drain into the Mississippi River, and then flow into the Gulf of Mexico. The freshwater of the Mississippi then floats on top of the sea-water, keeping oxygen from the atmosphere from getting into the deeper sea waters.