Algal bloom is a normal, naturally occurring event in marine environments. While some algae is completely harmless, harmful algal blooms (HABs) are becoming increasingly common. Some experts speculate that the rise in HAB events is linked to climate change and pollution.
HABs are linked to large-scale marine mortality events and shellfish poisoning in humans. They can damage water sources and cause health problems in humans and animals who come in contact with the water. According to Wikipedia, there are a number of serious harmful effects:
Examples of common harmful effects of HABs include:
1. the production of neurotoxins which cause mass mortalities in fish, seabirds, sea turtles, and marine mammals
2. human illness or death via consumption of seafood contaminated by toxic algae
3. mechanical damage to other organisms, such as disruption of epithelial gill tissues in fish, resulting in asphyxiation
4. oxygen depletion of the water column (hypoxia or anoxia) from cellular respiration and bacterial degradation
Freshwater events are the main threat to animals. Blue-green algae (Cyanobacteria) is poisonous to cats, dogs, horses, and humans. Contamination is possible not only by drinking the water, but through skin absorption as well. Children and toddlers are especially at risk, thanks to their lower body weight.
To avoid algae poisoning, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recommends:
1. Be aware of areas with thick clumps of algae and keep animals and children away from the water.
2. Do not wade or swim in water containing visible algae. Avoid direct contact with algae.
3. Make sure children are supervised at all times when they are near water. Drowning, not exposure to toxic algae, remains the greatest hazard of water recreation.
4. If you do come in contact with the algae, rinse off with fresh water as soon as possible.
5. Do not boat or water ski through algae blooms.
6. Do not drink the water, and avoid any situation that could lead to swallowing the water.
May Every Step You Take Be Healthy!