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Warming Oceans May Be Hazardous To Your Health

warming oceans can bring new health hazards

Here, courtesy of Climatide, our sister blog on Cape Cod, are two reasons that ocean warming due to climate change could be harmful to your health (think Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning and blooms of disease-causing bacteria).

When dust storms are carried across the ocean by tradewinds (and Lipp showed photos of a “dust event” that reached the Florida coast – an increasingly common occurrence, she said), the iron-laden dust acts like a fertilizer for ocean microbes….But Lipp said iron fertilization has a sinister side – it also induces disease-causing bacteria to bloom. Bacteria in the Vibrio family (cholera, a.k.a. Vibrio cholerae, is the most famous cousin in the clan) can increase their populations by more than 3000% within 24 hours of dust fertilization in the lab. Lipp says that may account for an 85% increase in U.S. cases of illnesses caused by oceanic Vibrio bacteria … since 1996! That increase is particularly striking in light of the fact that bacterial illnesses caused by lapses in food or personal hygiene have decreased significantly over the same period. Lipp admits she can’t pin the increase on climate change directly, but says it’s an area of active research.