Farm pond owners and Lake Erie enthusiasts with questions about harmful algal blooms (HABs) have a new fact sheet at their fingertips. Harmful Algal Blooms in Ohio Waters, written in partnership with Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA), and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, offers an explanation of the causes, identifying characteristics, and solutions for reducing or preventing HABs like Microcystis, Plectonema, and Lyngbya.
"With HABs recently increasing throughout Ohio, we felt it was important to not only get the information out to the public, but to show what they can do to help prevent blooms from happening in the first place," says Eugene Braig, Assistant Director of Ohio Sea Grant.
An algal bloom is an abundant or excessive growth of algae. HABs are so named because many produce poisons, or toxins, that can cause illness or irritation-sometimes even death-in pets, livestock, and humans. They have been found in Lake Erie, the Ohio River, and many inland Ohio water bodies, but they can occur almost anywhere there is water.
Excess nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen from watershed sources are major contributing factors to HABs. Blooms may be minimized, and some completely avoided, by reducing the nutrients and pollutants added to the water, especially phosphorus and nitrogen. To decrease 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.
Download the fact sheet. Printed versions are also available at all Ohio Sea Grant Extension offices and at the OEPA Division of Surface Water’s Inland Lakes Program.