Phosphorus is not for us

Following up on the chemical ban, I also attended several committee meetings about a possible ban on phosphorus fertilizers in Illinois. Currently, the ban has passed in the House but is not yet law.

Lawn care companies could be prohibited from using phosphorus in fertilizer as early as July 1, according to a bill that’s already passed the Illinois House.

Phosphorus, a growth-stimulating nutrient often contained in fertilizer, is said to cause environmental damage by increasing aquatic plant and algae growth in bodies of water. The measure seeks to ban lawn care companies from using phosphorus-containing fertilizers unless a soil test proves a phosphorus deficiency. Organic fertilizer in which phosphorus naturally occurs would also be exempt.

Nutrient pollution is the most widespread water quality problem in Illinois, says Jack Darin, director of the Illinois Sierra Club. Phosphorus runoff from an over-application of fertilizer can cause pea green algae to grow in water. The thick mats of algae suck oxygen out of the water, killing fish, making it difficult for boats to get through and impeding recreational activities.

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