Warming Oceans May Be Hazardous To Your Health

warming oceans can bring new health hazards
warming oceans can bring new health hazards

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.

This program aired on March 3, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Rachel Zimmerman

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



More from WBUR

Listen Live