Water and Air Pollution Issues in Lakeland, Florida

Known sources of air pollution in Lakeland include the active and abandoned phosphate mines that have served to provide phosphate rock for industrial use.

Especially damaging is the fluoride-containing dust (because fluoride is a naturally-occurring component of Florida phosphate rock) and gases like sulfur dioxide produced by these mines that have caused health problems in humans and animals such as growth retardation, stillbirths, and in livestock, and lung and liver dysfunctions in humans, as well as the destruction of plants in nearby areas, having come down with what is called “fluoride-chlorosis”, the poisoning of the plant by fluoride ion heralded by the unhealthy greening of a plant’s leaves.

The radioactive minerals that are also part of the rock from which phosphate is mined is also a health hazard, since the radioactive nuclides and their decay products such as radon 222 and polonium 210 are proven carcinogens. Apart from the phosphate mines, the large density of people living in Lakeland, and by extension the large number of vehicles, are also major contributors to air pollution. Vehicular exhaust in large volume lowers the quality of the air in the region.

The hot, humid, and windy climate at certain times of the year exacerbates the air pollution problem. Due to this, residents are always advised to monitor their newspapers for daily levels of ozone and particulate matter in the air, for both of these noxious air pollutants from vehicle exhaust are irritating and injurious to human health. The emissions are contributors to the greenhouse effect as well. Ammonia from industrial plants in the area, with its pungent odor and toxic effects, is known to be a major air pollutant.

Barium, manganese, and their compounds, with other heavy metal containing pollutants, are also notorious contaminators of waterways. These come from both industrial and power plants. Mercury has also been encountered, a primary source being mercury switches from disassembled cars. Agricultural runoff from livestock and citrus production is a possible source of water pollution. Pesticide residues used for citrus can be carried away into groundwater and nearby lakes and streams.

Livestock manure, if not handled properly, can be the source of coliforms and other bacteria that can cause water-borne ailments.


Air Quality. In Phosphate Primer (n. d. ) Retrieved February 15, 2007, from http://www1. fipr. state. fl. us/PhosphatePrimer/0/73B309D1DFC5CEFF85256F88007B723C. Palmer, T. , (2006). Polk’s Toxic Chemicals Detailed. The Ledger. Retrieved February 15, 2007, from http://www. theledger. com/apps/pbcs. dll/article? AID=/20060710/NEWS/607100339/1134.

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