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The Effectiveness of Phosphate Bans

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Document pages: 12 pages

Abstract: Nutrient pollution is one of the leading causes of surface water quality impairment in the US and globally. This paper highlights three important considerations for recent policies that target the use of phosphates in household and commercial products. First, US production of phosphates for these products and other industrial uses has fallen from a high of 32 percent in 1964 to less than 5 percent in recent decades. Phosphates for agricultural use comprise the remaining 95 percent. Thus, regulations that overwhelmingly target household and industrial uses over agriculture are limited in their ability to address the larger nutrient problem. Second, behavioral responses to variation in the spatial and temporal aspects of these policies reduce their effectiveness. Third, interactions with regulations at wastewater treatment facilities determine the extent to which reductions in phosphate at the household and commercial levels pass through as reductions in phosphate loadings to waterways.

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