MARYSVILLE, Ohio – Scotts Miracle-Gro, based here, has removed phosphorus from its Turf Builder line of lawn fertilizer to help reduce the type of harmful algae blooms that have plagued waterways such as Grand Lake St. Marys and Lake Erie.

The  maker of lawn-and-garden products sees the move as a milestone for its industry, which it says is partly responsible for the phosphorus runoff that feeds one of the nation’s most costly and challenging environmental problems-nutrient pollution.

Phosphorus, also known as phosphate, is one of three primary turf nutrients, according to Pennsylvania State’s College of Agricultural Sciences. Many soils are rich in phosphorus; however, the nutrient often is unavailable to grasses because it binds with other elements or clay.

At least 11 states-Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin-have banned the use or sale of phosphorus for lawn maintenance, according to Connecticut’s Office of Legislative Research.

The phosphorus-free Turf Builder already is on the shelves of many retailers. However, the packages do not say the fertilizer is "phosphorus-free." Consumers can be sure they’re getting a zero-phosphorus product by checking the N-P-K nutrient mix on the bags, where a phosphorus-free product would list this value as "0."

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