Phosporus in sediments

BGS Research — Soils and landscapes

Phosphorus (P) is often called a ‘legacy contaminant’ in river sediments, as it can affect water quality for a long time after it enters a river systems with the major sources being attached to soil particles or discharged from sewage treatment works. Its presence can have a large impact on whether ‘Good Ecological Status’ can be achieved in rivers, as it is a key limiting nutrient for growth in fresh water. In excess, it can cause algal blooms and a loss of biodiversity.

River with algae
Information icon

Phosphorus lost from agriculture can be a major source of eutrophication in rivers, streams and lakes. BGS © UKRI.

Expand icon

Recent work has focused on the role of soils on the transfer of P to river sediments in the UK, with studies being undertaken on the River Nene and the River Thames. A new project is being initiated to examine the speciation of P in sediments from the rivers and estuaries feeding an area of Lake Victoria.

Contact

If you want to discover more then please contact Andy Tye.

You may also be interested in

P209518_feature

Soils and landscapes

Increasing human populations, changing climates and the intensification in the use of our soils means that we are in danger of losing or causing irreversible damage to a resource that takes thousands of years to produce.

Show more

Was this page helpful?

  • How can we make this section better?*

  • Please select a reason*

  • How can we make this section better?*