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Algae Blooms More Common Than Many Think; Will Become Worse

from Water & Wastes Digest

The harmful-algal bloom (HAB) problem that shut off Toledo's water supply isn't rare. Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, Wisconsin have also reported HABs this summer, and that's not good: HABs can damage human organs and cause neurological problems, rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. The frequency and severity of HABs are going to get worse, principally because of climate change. Example: Heavy precipitation in Ohio has resulted in a 42% runoff increase since 1995. The growing frequency and severity of droughts may also aggravate the problem, because they increase nutrient concentrations and residence times in streams. A 2009 study estimated that freshwater HABs nationwide cost the U.S. economy as much as $2.2 to $4.6 billion annually. Helping communities prevent such problems would be a valuable service. more

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