The thick of it: Delving into the neglected global impacts of human waste

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The food we eat, fluids we drink, and medicines we take, once expelled from our bodies, must end up somewhere. Thanks to a recently published scientific model, the destination of a global flood of human waste into coastal areas has at last been tracked for all to see. And it doesn’t make for a pretty picture. According to that new model, wastewater adds around 6.2 million tons of nitrogen to coastal waters worldwide annually; equivalent to around 40% of the amount emitted by agricultural runoff. Nitrogen is one of the worst pollutants of our planet’s oceans, causing toxic algal blooms, eutroph…

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