ENVIRONMENT

Water safety company launches toxic algae education campaign

Mar 20, 2024, 1:00 PM

Toxic algae floats on top of a lake....

Toxic algae floats on the surface of a lake. (Utah Division of Water Quality)

(Utah Division of Water Quality)

SALT LAKE CITY — Toxic algae can damage lake ecosystems and cause health problems for humans and pets that are exposed.

BlueGreen Water Technologies, a company that works to make water safe, has launched a campaign to educate people about the dangers of toxic algae. 

“Beware the Bloom!”

BlueGreen’s campaign is called Beware the Bloom! It will kick off on March 22, which is World Water Day. 

The United Nations designated World Water Day. Since 1993, the organization has raised awareness about the importance of safe water access. 

According to Jessica Frost, a scientific director for BlueGreen Water Technologies, there are steps visitors to infected lakes can take to stay healthy. 

Firstly, Frost said to check for advisories before you visit a lake. 

“But keep in mind that some water bodies may not be tested for harmful algae,” Frost added. 

Secondly, when you arrive, pay attention to your surroundings. If you see a blue-green substance on the water’s surface, leave. The water could also smell bad. 

The Utah Division of Environmental Quality website includes photos of toxic algae. 

Thirdly, do not boat, fish, or get into the water if you see toxic algae. Avoid recreating on land near the lake as well. BlueGreen Water Technologies said the algae’s toxins could also be on the shore or in the air. 

Do not eat or drink anything that comes from an infected lake. Also, do not wash things in the lake. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, consuming contaminated fish or water can result in vomiting, stomach pain, and muscle weakness, among other symptoms. 

Finally, if you come into contact with contaminated water or surfaces, wash your hands immediately. If your pet comes into contact with it, wear gloves as you wash them. 

According to the CDC, if you or your pet is exposed to toxic algae and begin experiencing or demonstrating symptoms, you should immediately see a doctor. 

Why is toxic algae increasing? 

According to BlueGreen Water Technologies, harmful and toxic algal blooms are increasing across the globe. 

“Harmful blooms are increasing in frequency and intensity worldwide, particularly during the warmer months,” said Jan Spin, the president of BlueGreen Water Technologies. 

Additionally, the press release said that a recent study published by Nature Water found that higher temperatures can increase the likelihood of toxic algae. Specifically, the likelihood is highest in water ranging in temperatures between 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Lake surface temperatures are expected to increase by 0.34 degrees Celsius per decade, per Nature Water. The temperature rise, attributed to climate change, will have “severe” impacts on lake ecosystems. 

Despite the correlation between temperature and toxic algae blooms, Nature Water said scientists still don’t understand the role played by temperature. 

“Early detection and treatment are critical in reducing health risks and preserving aquatic ecosystems,” said Spin.  

Related: Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) found in Utah Lake

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Water safety company launches toxic algae education campaign