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Algal Blooms Could Produce Neurotoxins.

Algal blooms in Lake Erie's central basin can produce types of cyanobacterial toxins that typically are not detected through routine water-safety monitoring, according to a study published in the Journal of Great Lakes Research.

"The cyanobacteria we found in the central basin are completely different from what we've seen in the Toledo area in the western basin," says Justin Chaffin, research coordinator at Ohio State University's Stone Laboratory. "That's troubling because water treatment plants typically aren't set up to look for this bacteria or the toxins they create. It requires more expensive, more sophisticated equipment."

Harmful blue-green algal blooms and the toxic microcystins that accompany them have been a persistent threat in the lake's western basin but, until this study, bloom-related toxins had not been formally documented and analyzed in the central basin.

The water in the central basin had not been thought of as friendly to cyanobacteria because it is not as warm or nutrient-rich as in the western basin, where nitrogen and phosphorous are plentiful because of agricultural runoff brought in by the Maumee River.

The research team found a cyanobacterium called Dolichospermum in the central basin during early-season blooms in July This cyanobacterium is capable of producing a toxin that can attack the central nervous system in humans, and the researchers found genetic evidence that the bloom has the potential for the neurotoxin.

"What this means is that, if you're a water plant operator in Cleveland, you have to be ready by late June or early July for cyanobacteria because they do have the potential to produce a really potent toxin. It could also be a problem for beachgoers if there's a north wind and these blooms gather along the Ohio shoreline," explains Chaffin.

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Title Annotation:LAKE ERIE
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:100NA
Date:Jun 1, 2019
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