Water warning: Expert explains toxic algae bloom

CLEVELAND Ohio — Toledo’s water problem is a growing concern as each day passes.

The problem centers around an abundant algae bloom in the Lake Erie.

Dr. Michael Nichols, associate professor of chemistry at John Carroll University, said sometimes people refer to it as pond scum.

“It’s a blue-green, what are called cyanobacteria algae bloom. And, basically it will create a scum on the surface,” he said.

The algae produces a toxic chemical that can be harmful to people and animals.

“It can produce toxins. One of them is microcystin, and that is a liver toxin potentially in humans,” Nichols added.

This particular algae problem occurs mostly in agricultural area where fertilizers are used, and the run-off ends up in Lake Erie.

“They are like any other plant, if you have excess fertilizers they will grow. In Toledo in particular in the western basin of Lake Erie, the issue is that it has been warm, the water has been quite still. So, it has allowed them to bloom or over grow at this point,” Nichols said.

Lake Erie is the same water source in Toledo as it is in the Greater Cleveland area.

But, Nichols said it is less likely that the same algae bloom problem would occur with Cleveland’s drinking water.

“It’s different in the western basin than it is over here in the central basin. We have a lot choppier water, and so that is going to hinder the growth of an algal bloom,” he added.

Nichols said there is no way of telling how long this algae problem will last.

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