Algal Blooms

There are many that cause harm—but it’s a small fraction of what’s out there. They’re not the only algae in the water - Don Anderson

Algal Blooms
Algal Blooms

image by: A Toxic Inconvenience

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What are algae blooms and why are they bad?

Innumerable microscopic algae help anchor aquatic ecosystems; they turn sunlight into food, and themselves serve as food for water-dwelling frogs, fish, snails, and insects.

But under the wrong conditions—warm water, too much sunlight, and excess nutrients from agricultural or sewage runoff—some species of algae can multiply uncontrollably, forming green, red, blue-green, or brown masses that smother the surface of waters and can produce potentially dangerous toxins.

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 What are algae blooms and why are they bad?

Just as tiny droplets collect into cloud, microscopic algae congregate into blooms that can be seen from space. Every year, harmful algal blooms (or HABs) force beach closures, contaminate drinking water, and sicken people and their pets.


The long-term health effects of harmful algal blooms in people and animals remain unclear.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

The excessive algal growth, or algal bloom, becomes visible to the naked eye and can be green, blue-green, red, or brown, depending on the type of algae. Algae are always present in natural bodies of water like oceans, lakes, and rivers, but only a few types can produce toxins.

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