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Environmental researchers warn of dangers of nitrogen fertilizer

TAMPA – Environmental researchers are urging people to look out for potentially toxic nitrogen fertilizer leaking into storm water.

This comes after recent issues with nitrogen in water, which has been linked to red tide, the loss of seagrass and toxic algae blooms on the east coast of Florida.

Leesa Souto, executive director of the Marine Resources Council in Palm Bay said nitrogen-based fertilizer in storm water cause water quality issues.

Independent researchers, including Souto, created a report for the Tampa Bay Estuary Program, looking at how people responded to ordinances banning the use of nitrogen-based fertilizers during part of the year.

Hillsborough County community had the highest estimated fertilizer nitrogen inputs, the highest fertilizer frequency, the highest percentage of professionals responsible for landscape management, and the highest estimated annual total nitrogen loads of the communities studied in Pinellas, Manatee and Hillsborough, the report found.

The Tampa Bay Estuary Program said these are the most recent numbers they have regarding fertilizer usage. The Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board is set to review the report on March 21.