Phosphoric acid can have environmentally harmful side effects, especially in the food webs, and water sources. Phosphates, including phosphoric acid, have been found increasingly in household detergents or in laundering agents. Phosphoric acid is detrimental to the environment as a water pollutant. Phosphates are a source of nutrients to algae, but when algae grows superfluously, it suffocates the river. Aquatic life dies as the oxygen is suppressed and consumed. Human and environmental health is sacrificed by the release of phosphates. The chemicals are accumulative; as the oxygen level drops, the water will become hazardous to citizens, vegetation, and wildlife.

On December 11, 1997, that was exactly what happened. Fifty million gallons of acidic wastewater (1% phosphoric acid) from the Mulberry Phosphates Inc. spilled into the Afalia River. This resulted from a breach in the containment wall. The spill's impact stretched downriver into Hillsborough County. The reaction to the spill from the Tallahassee Department of Environmental Protection was to initiate a damage assessment of the entire river. It takes a long time for chemicals and oxygen deprivation in the water to simply fade away. They often linger, traveling through future generations of humans or animals. Water pollution has become one of the most critical problems ever. Many environmental agencies have introduced precautions and regulations yet wastewater and phosphate pollution still persist. Anti-pollution efforts have begun, but are they enough?

Maybe the anti-pollution efforts will be enough, but only with the assistance of our industries and businesses. We need to take action on pollution as a whole. To prevent ecological catastrophes, we need better safety guards on our waste management and pollution control. This will include secure tracking of disposal, containment, handling, and tolerance levels of pollutants. The acidic state of phosphorus wastewater and other major types of water pollution are a serious situation quickly becoming critical. There is no convenient way to dispose of the byproducts of phosphate, and the manufacturers have to contain it within sealed landfills or bins. Unfortunately, seals can break, bins can rupture, and then spills occur. Clearly, we require action to stop this expanding contamination of our world and everything in it. Industries need to adhere closely to regulations and laws or the environment and the people will suffer.

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