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Archive for February 27th, 2014

Algae Blooms Threaten Lakes

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Algae blooms are rapid growth buildup of phytoplankton, a small and simple free floating water plant. They are natural occurrences triggered by increased water temperature and sunlight that provide perfect growing conditions for the tiny plants.

Recently, there have been significant increases in algae blooms, and scientific organizations are now looking more closely at the types of human activity that are contributing to these increases.

Among the causes for concern are nitrogen and phosphorous rich fertilizers used on farm fields and residential landscaping. Rain washes these fertilizers into water systems where they feed algae species and promote growth.

Some algae blooms are harmful. Cyanobacteria or blue green algae bloom is sometimes referred to as pond scum. This thick, foamy blanket of algae poses health risks to humans and domestic pets. Blue green algae blooms can cause skin irritations such as blisters and hives. If water containing algae is inhaled or swallowed, it can cause serious liver, kidney and neurological problems.

Algae blooms also cause problems within the aquatic ecosystem. Excessive growth of algae can block sunlight and stunt growth of other plants which may provide important habitat for aquatic animals.

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