What Causes Algal Blooms

What Causes Algal BloomsNature mostly manages the light and temperature, however the increased existence of nutrients for example phosphorous is largely because of poor farming practices including high usage of fertilizers and presence of livestock close to water supplies, as well as effluent and run-off through cities and towns near waterways.

The pounding of water and reducing river circulation rates tends to enhance the light and occasionally the nutrient environment with regard to algal growth making water disturbance a major factor in bloom development. Pesticides and other chemicals may impact the natural grazers which would otherwise manage algal growth and their existence increases the chance of blooms.

Harmful Algal Blooms

Harmful algal blooms are a significant environmental issue in all 50 states. Referred to as blue-green algae, cyanobacteria or red tides, harmful algal blooms have serious impacts on human wellness, aquatic ecosystems and the economy.

Harmful algal blooms are overgrowths of algae within water. Some generate dangerous toxins in fresh or marine water however even nontoxic blooms harm the environment and nearby economies.

Harmful algal blooms can:

Create dead zones inside the water

Generate extremely harmful toxins that can sicken or kill animals and individuals

Damage industries that rely on clean water

Increase treatment costs for drinking water

Harmful algal blooms need:

Slow-moving water


Nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen)

Nutrient pollution through human activities makes the problem worse, resulting in more severe blooms that take place more often.

Algal Blooms in Lakes

Algae are naturally taking place plants that grow in water. When algae grow very rapidly in a confined area or grow to the point in which you do not need a microscope to notice, it is known as an algal bloom. Blooms can be found within many bodies of water throughout the Great Lakes; however they thrive in warm, shallow, non-moving bodies of water such as smaller lakes and ponds.

Most algal blooms are safe, but certain kinds of algae may pose a risk to animals, humans and water quality. Algal and algae blooms are often not considered dangerous unless they are capable of generating toxins and you come in direct contact with them.

Blooms can range in color from bright to red, neon green to more blue green. A bloom can seem like a scum, foam or mat on surface of the water or like paint that has been spilled within the water. Also, they are sometimes accompanied through an earthy, pungent or musty smell. However, not every algal blooms produce an odor or affect the appearance water and toxins can stay present in the water even if a bloom has dissipated.

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