Pollution from human activities, such as fertilizer and agrochemical runoff and untreated sewage, present as great a threat to the oceans as overfishing.  Fertilizer runoff can result in nutrient overload, overgrowth of algae and bacteria that eventually result in dead zones where aquatic life cannot survive.  Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) also produce toxins that harm humans.

Currently, toxicity levels are reported several days late.   On-time detection can provide relevant information to beachgoers as to whether it is safe to swim.  AI is testing OpenqPCR to determine if it can provide results 10 times cheaper and faster for toxic HABs and E. Coli.

Conventional agriculture results in harmful runoff.  In the nearer term, to prevent dead zones, water from conventional agriculture needs to be cleaned up of nutrients and pesticides before being released into coastal waterways.  However, commercially viable systems do not exist.  Anthropocene Institutes supports research to formulate better technology solutions.