August 26, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
COLUMBUS, OH – This summer, there have been warnings about high concentrations of harmful algae at several Ohio State Parks and maybe we haven’t seen the worst of it yet. The growth of these harmful algae will peak next month and on top of that, this year’s harmful algal blooms (HAB) are predicted to reach historic levels. "The frequency of blooms around the state and in western Lake Erie already this year doesn’t bode well for late summer 2010," says Eugene Braig, assistant director of the Ohio Sea Grant College Program.
Many types of HABs are dangerous because they produce toxins, or poisons, that can cause illness or irritation-sometimes even death-in pets, livestock, and humans.
To educate members of the public about the risks of HABs, Ohio Sea Grant partnered with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to produce a four-page fact sheet. You can view the HAB fact sheet here: www.ohioseagrant.osu.edu/_documents/publications/FS/FS-091HarmfulAlgalBloomsInOhioWaters2010.pdf. Printed versions are also available at all Ohio Sea Grant Extension offices and at the OEPA Division of Surface Water’s Inland Lakes Program.
Algal blooms thrive by feeding on excess nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen from watershed sources. Blooms can be minimized by reducing the nutrients and pollutants added to the water, especially phosphorus. "These things are native here. They tend to not become a problem until the activities of people make the conditions right for a problem," Braig says.
At the East Harbor State Park beach, Ohio EPA tests found microcystin toxin concentrations of 19 parts per billion (ppb), near-harmful levels, and the agency has posted signs warning the public to avoid contact with the water. According to the World Health Organization, risk to human health from recreational contact is considered low at microcystin concentrations of 4 ppb and moderate at 20 ppb.
To decrease the likelihood of illness, the public is advised to avoid contact with waters that have HAB advisories posted or anywhere the water is pea green, has a floating bright green scum, or is generally discolored.
Never allow family members or pets to drink lake or river water, and be sure to rinse off after swimming in natural waters.
Frank Lichtkoppler, Ohio State University Extension Specialist: 440.350.2582, firstname.lastname@example.org
Eugene Braig, Assistant Director, Ohio Sea Grant: 614.247.6684, email@example.com