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Drinking Water Exposure to Chemical and Pathogenic Contaminants: Algal Toxins and Water Quality

Algal bloom near the shore of Rock creek lake in Iowa
A cyanobacterial bloom dispersed throughout Spirit Lake, IA, co-dominated by Anabaena sp., Aphanizomenon sp., and Microcystis sp. with a total microcystin concentration of 2.6 µg/L.

Freshwater and marine harmful algal blooms (HABs) can occur anytime water use is impaired due to excessive accumulations of algae. In freshwater, the majority of HABs are caused by cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae). Cyanobacteria cause a multitude of water-quality concerns, including the potential to produce taste-and-odor causing compounds and toxins that are potent enough to poison animals and humans. Taste-and-odor compounds and toxins are of particular concern in lakes, reservoirs, and rivers that are used for either drinking-water supplies or full body contact recreation. Taste-and-odor compounds cause malodorous or unpalatable drinking water and fish, resulting in increased treatment costs and loss of aquacultural and recreational revenue. Cyanobacterial toxins (cyanotoxins) have been implicated in human and animal illness and death in over fifty countries worldwide, including at least 35 U.S. States. Human toxicoses associated with cyanotoxins have most commonly occurred after exposure through drinking water or recreational activities. U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists are involved in the following activities:

Algal Toxin Studies

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Page Last Modified: 25-May-2016@16:28