Impact

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Phosphorus pollution, and the Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) that result, have dire economic consequences on the communities they affect. Decreased real estate values, health care costs, losses in tourism revenues and the cost of cleaning up the mess have all been associated with this vexing issue:

  • Health Costs: On average, $22 million dollars are lost annually (figure includes medical expenses and lost work days) during HAB events.
  • Fisheries Costs: The annual impact of HABs to commercial fisheries has been estimated to vary between $13 – $25 million dollars, with an annual average impact of $18 million (2000 dollars). 1
  • Tourism Losses: While “red tides” are caused by a different algae, one study in the Florida panhandle estimated that nearly $6.5 million dollars in economic losses were incurred from 1995-2000 by local restaurants and hotels. 2 It’s no surprise that tourists don’t visit areas affected by HABs.
  • Real estate values in Florida’s Lee and Martin counties were found to vary due to levels of Phosphorus pollution and resultant water quality by $428 – $541 million dollars. 3

These impacts are replicated around the globe, as communities from Africa to New Zealand, Japan to Peru, throughout Asia and Europe cope with their freshwater bodies suffering from HABs.


  1. Anderson DM, Hoagland P, Kaoru Y, White AW. 2000. Estimated Annual Economic Impacts from Harmful Algal Bloom (HABs) in the United States. Technical Report WHOI 2000 to 2011 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Woods Hole, Mass.
  2. Morgan, K.L. S.L. Larkin, and C.M. Adams. Economic Impacts of Red Tide Events on Restaurant Sales. Southern Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting. Orlando, Florida, Feb. 5-8, 2006.
  3. Florida Realtors. The Impact of Ambient Estuarine Water Quality on Florida Property Values. March 2015.

 

US Algal Bloom Map – 2016

US Algal Bloom Map

 

Phosphorus Pollution – 2016