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Environment

OSU Report Says Algae Blooms Are Poorly Monitored In U.S.

OdellLakeAlgae.jpg
Joe Eilers
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Blooms of toxic cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, is increasingly creating a global health threat and poorly monitored in the U.S. That's according to a report released by scientists at Oregon State University and the University of North Carolina.

The report, published in the journal Current Environmental Health Reports, says several factors are contributing to the concern. Water temperatures and carbon dioxide levels have risen, causing bacteria to reproduce quicker. Federal drinking water regulations don't require cyanobacteria testing when an algae bloom is associated with disease outbreaks. OSU researcher Tim Otten says human activity is largely contributing to bigger algae blooms.

Otten: "Because they are reaching these larger magnitudes, they are becoming a more important health risk, and if there is a bloom occurring, there are things that can be done within the treatment system to help ameliorate those effects, but it requires surveillance in order to know that there is an issue occurring."

Otten says there's no getting rid of cyanobacteria in bodies of water, in fact, some strains are important for the ecosystem. He says a lack of monitoring improvements could lead to more illnesses and death, particularly in animals.

copyright, 2015 KLCC