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Weijiang Chen

Thanks to a variety of clean air and water regulations, China's infamously polluted waterways are looking cleaner.

According to a report published today in Nature Geosciences, phosphorous levels in China's lakes declined by 60% between 2006 and 2014. Phosphorous is a crucial nutrient for plant growth, but it's also a common byproduct of industry and used as a fertilizer. Too much of it can trigger the growth of harmful algae that, when it dies and decomposes, can consume the ecosystem's oxygen and kill all animal life.

Why it matters: Phosphorous pollution is a large source of water quality degradation globally that threatens biodiversity and the health of humans near polluted water. In the U.S., economic losses associated with high phosphorus levels in freshwaters is about $2.2 billion each year.

How they did it: Yan Lin of the Norwegian Institute for Water Research in Oslo and his colleagues took monthly measurements of phosphorous concentrations from 862 lakes across China and looked at the source of phosphorous in each lake separately.

What they found: Phosphorous levels have decreased in lakes in western, eastern, and central China. This corresponds with cleaner industry in the area and better sewage systems in the cities. However, in remote and relatively pristine Northeastern China levels of the mineral have increased, suggesting runoff of naturally-occurring phosphorous in the soil could be increasing due to logging.

Looking forward: Lin told Axios that building good sanitation and sewage infrastructure is the best way to stop phosphorous pollution. Although phosphorous levels in lakes decrease when pollution stops, phosphorous does build up in the soil. Lin notes that in places like Scandinavia and the U.S., lake phosphorous has started to increase despite anti-pollution measures. That's because phosphorous from pollutants builds up in the soil, and can continue to bleed into lakes for years to come. It doesn't mean that anti-pollution measures don't work, says Lin.

Go deeper

Progressives to file resolution to strip Boebert's committee seats

Rep. Lauren Boebert walking through the Senate side of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

House progressives are planning to introduce a resolution on Wednesday to strip Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) of her committee assignments, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The move, which was first reported by the Washington Post, comes as progressives — anxious to see the right-wing firebrand face retribution for her recent comments — have grown frustrated by Democratic leadership's inaction on the issue.

Roger Stone won't cooperate with Jan. 6 panel

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone speaking in front of the Supreme Court on Jan. 5 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone won't cooperate with the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and will invoke the Fifth Amendment right not to testify, his attorney said Tuesday evening.

Why it matters: The announcement, first reported by ABC News, came hours after former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said he wouldn't cooperate with the probe.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congressional leaders clinch support for crucial defense bill, debt limit votes

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer passes waiting reporters on Tuesday. Photo: Eric Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Congress has found a shortcut to pass its annual defense funding bill and raise the debt limit.

Driving the news: The House voted Tuesday night on two major bills — one creating a one-time, fast-track process for the Senate to raise the debt ceiling with just 51 votes, and another passing its annual defense bill.