Toxic algae could become a major threat without proper management
The western basin of Lake Erie made national news during the first few days of August after it was discovered that a harmful algae bloom, referred to by scientists as an HAB, was starting to threaten the water supply in Toledo, Ohio and the surrounding area.
The blue-green algae was pushed by wind and water currents to the intake of the city’s water plant. It was there that the toxins produced by the algae bloom, of which microcystin caused the most concern, made the water undrinkable for several days.
Aquatic biologist Jeff Reutter, director of Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory at Ohio State University, said that water in Pennsylvania would be relatively safe from the toxins produced by the algae bloom, and that properly prepared fish from the Erie County portion of Lake Erie should be safe for consumption.
Scientists have still not come to a consensus on exactly what functions these toxins perform for the algae, but one thing they do know is that they are extremely poisonous to animals, including humans. Some of these toxins have been known to cause nausea, diarrhea, lover damage, and possibly even cancer.
The algae that produces these toxins thrives in warm water that is rich in nutrients. The reason this is in issue around Toledo is that much of the land in the area is used to grow crops and livestock. Lack of proper management allows runoff of nutrients from these farms, as well as sewage from cities in the area, to make their way to the lake, creating and ideal home for algae.
Read more about the story at ENN.