Lifestyle & Belief

Ohio River is the most polluted river in the United States


Experts believe a lack of oxygen resulted in millions of dead anchovies floating in a marina in Los Angeles, California last March. The International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) reported that human pollution and overfishing are two of many factors leading to the depletion of marine life at a faster rate than previously estimated.


Gabriel Bouys

For the second time in three eyars, advocacy group Environment America ranked the Ohio River as the most polluted river in the United States.

“It’s still an industrial, working river,” Judy Petersen, executive director of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, a group not involved with the report, told The Courier-Journal. “It receives a lot of toxic discharges." 

Environment America analyzed 2010 data from the Environmental Protection Agency to create its report about factory discharges in waterways.

The environment group's last report, released in 2009, also found that the Ohio River had the most pollution discharge in the nation. Its more recent report found that pollution discharge in the Ohio River has since increased by 1 million pounds, The Courier-Journal reported.

While some of the chemicals discharged into the water are harmless, others can be dangerous even in small doses. For example, industrial facilities released more than 274 pounds of a cancer-causing solvent called Tetrachloroethylene, often used by dry cleaners, into waterways in 2010, the report says

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Overall, Environment America found that 226 million pounds of toxic chemicals were discharged into 1,400 waterways across the nation in 2010, the Dyersburg State Gazette reported

“America’s waterways are a polluter’s paradise right now," Environment America says in a press release. “We must turn the tide of toxic pollution by restoring Clean Water Act protections to our waterways.” The group also advocates for changes such as requiring industries to disclose the amount of toxic chemicals they use.  

Some companies have taken the initiative and turned to safer chemicals. For instance, hundreds of dry cleaners have stopped using Tetrachloroethylene, the report says