Algal blooms, the slimy green substance on lakes and ponds, have a lot of people talking and asking questions. In particular, the algal blooms found in western Lake Erie were described as a cause for concern in a New York Times article written by Jugal K. Patel and Yuliya Parshina-Kottas that was published in October 3, 2017.
Why the concern? This particular bloom near Toledo, Ohio, covers 700 square miles and could be a harmful algal bloom (HAB). The bloom covers an area that supplies the drinking water to sources for about 3 million people. If this indeed is an HAB, there are a lot of human beings who could have HAB toxins in their drinking water source.
According to the EPA, 59% of blooms tested throughout the world have been deemed toxic.
Understanding Algal Blooms
According to researchers at Penn State, algal blooms are caused by excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in the water. Higher temperatures and long days are also needed for an HAB to form. In the United States, there are approximately 100,000 miles of rivers and streams, 2.5 million acres of lakes, reservoirs and ponds and 800 square miles of bays and estuaries that are affected by nitrogen and phosphorous pollution (from Penn State HAB page). When the pollution in our water and other conditions are right, they can create algal blooms. “Algae” fed by this nutrient pollution is also sometimes called “blue-green algae,” but it’s not actually algae at all. It is in fact a photosynthetic bacteria called cyanobacteria.
Sometimes a bloom shows up as “pond scum” on the water’s surface, and sometimes it is dispersed in the water column. Once the blooms appear they are moved around by wind and water currents, potentially driving them towards drinking water intakes. When this occurs the drinking water source is contaminated by the toxins produced by the HABs. According to researchers, toxins in high enough concentration can cause illness, irritation or in extreme situations, death for the humans or animals that drink or come in contact with the water. (from EPA cyanobacteria fact sheet)
The common toxins that are found in water contaminated by algal blooms are microcystins, cylindrospermopsins, anatoxins and saxitoxins (from EPA). Lake Erie’s most prevalent toxin is microcystin which can cause liver damage, according to the NY Times article from Patel and Parshina-Kottas (from NY Times). Other toxins can affect the skin or nervous system.
Not all algal blooms produce toxins. According to the EPA, 59% of blooms tested throughout the world have been deemed toxic. Because a large percentage of algal blooms around the world contain toxins, many are looking for ways to protect the quality of the water they and their families drink.
How Kinetico Can Help
If you want to protect your family from the toxins produced by algal blooms, the best defense is to install a reverse osmosis (RO) drinking water system. RO systems reduce many contaminants, allowing you to drink water that tastes better and is safer. HAB toxins are relatively large molecules that a RO membrane can reject well. When a carbon filter is part of the RO system it also helps by adsorbing the toxins. If you are ready to install a drinking water filtration system, we recommend the Kinetico K5 Drinking Water Station®. The K5 is Kinetico’s best-in-class reverse osmosis system designed to solve the toughest water quality challenges. The K5 Drinking Water Station provides a plentiful supply of high-quality water and it is easy to maintain. The K5 significantly reduces more contaminants than any comparable drinking water treatment unit. To get your K5 Drinking Water Station contact your local Kinetico water professional today or click below to get a quick quote. Want to learn more about Kinetico Drinking Water Filtration Systems, click here.