There has been a significant bloom in “toxic blue-green algae” in Lake Eerie and surrounding Ohio inland lakes. Recently, there have been “30 complaints linked to human sickness or irritation from exposure to algae”. The algae outbreak seems to be only getting worse, and may continue to threaten public health if the water becomes toxic. Due to farm fertilizer runoff into the Maumee River, water resources are becoming increasingly contaminated. This “toxic blue algae” may terrorize the fishery and tourism industry as well in and around Ohio. Many “government entities and universities are spending hundreds of thousands” to figure out the cause behind the outbreak and how to end it. The city of Toledo alone is spending $4,000 a day on algae outbreak sites. The blue-green algae are microcystis, a known neurotoxin, which means a high concentration can be harmful to the nervous system/brain and to those with weaker immune systems, such as children. State officials have yet to put forth health standards for Microcystins in lakes. The Blue Water Satellite research team “pitched a plan to the state to do a spectral reading of all of Ohio’s inland lakes to find algal growths” which it was denied. Government officials need to commit their resources to stop the algae outbreak or the impact will only get worse and increase the risk of public health.
Sources: “Scientists say the toxic blue-green algae will only get worse in Ohio lakes” Cleveland.com, August 23, 2010
Student Researchers: Brennan Martin, Mara Mote and Tracey Dewland
Faculty Instructor: Kevin Howley
Evaluator: Fred Soster Professor of Geosciences, DePauw University