Navigation Links
If the water looks and smells bad, it may be toxic

Earthy or musty odors, along with visual evidence of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, may serve as a warning that harmful cyanotoxins are present in lakes or reservoirs. In a newly published USGS study of cyanobacterial blooms in Midwest lakes, taste-and-odor compounds were found almost every time cyanotoxins were found, indicating odor may serve as a warning that harmful toxins are present.

"It is commonly believed that there are no health risks associated with taste-and-odor compounds," said Dr. Jennifer Graham, USGS limnologist and lead scientist on this study. "While taste-and-odor compounds are not toxic, these pungent compounds were always found with cyanotoxins in the blooms sampled. This finding highlights the need for increased cyanotoxin surveillance during taste-and-odor events so that the public can be advised and waters can be effectively treated."

Cyanotoxins are produced by some cyanobacteria. Cyanobacteria commonly form a blue-green, red or brown film-like layer on the surface of lakes and reservoirs. This phenomenon is frequently noticed in the United States during the summer, but also occurs during other seasons.

Cyanotoxins can be poisonous to people, aquatic life, pets and livestock. Removing or treating affected water can be both costly and time-intensive. Cyanotoxins are currently on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's drinking-water contaminant candidate list, and many states include cyanotoxins in their freshwater beach-monitoring programs.

"Exposure to these toxins has caused a range of symptoms including skin rashes, severe stomach upset, seizures, or even death," said Dr. Keith Loftin, USGS research chemist and environmental engineer. "Pets and livestock are most susceptible to direct exposure, but people can also be affected during recreation, by eating contaminated foods, or by drinking contaminated water that has not been treated properly."

For this study, a cyanobacterial bloom from each of 23 lakes in Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota and Missouri was sampled and analyzed for thirteen toxins and two taste-and-odor compounds. Lakes were targeted based on a known history of cyanobacterial bloom occurrence.

Microcystins, a specific type of toxin, are often the only cyanotoxin considered when evaluating risks associated with cyanobacteria in waters used for recreation or drinking water supply. Microcystins were found in all samples; however, this study also indicates that toxins other than microcystins may be more common than previously thought.

Taste-and-odor compounds were detected in 91 percent of samples. Since toxins occurred more frequently than taste-and-odor compounds, odor alone does not provide sufficient warning to ensure human-health protection against cyanotoxin exposure.

If you think you see a harmful algal bloom, avoiding it is the first course of action. A good second step is to notify local authorities responsible for the affected area, such as a lake manager, state health department, or other relevant state agencies.


Contact: Kara Capelli
United States Geological Survey

Related medicine news :

1. Water management and malnutrition crucial issues at McGill food conference
2. 2002 Oil Spill May Shed Light on Health Problems for Deepwater Workers
3. Could Drinking Water Before Meals Help You Lose Weight?
4. Africa cell phone boom beneficial -- but schools, roads, power, water remain critical needs
5. Nanotechnology for water purification
6. Underwater sponges and worms may hold key to cure for malaria
7. Pionetics Ships its 1,000th LINX Drinking Water System
8. New study links 1 in 5 deaths in Bangladesh to arsenic in the drinking water
9. Voss Foundation Helps CHF International Provide Clean Water in Rural Ethiopia
10. Chemicals remaining after wastewater treatment change the gender of fish
11. Deadly effect of arsenic in drinking water measured in massive study
Post Your Comments:
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... 2015 , ... Next IT Healthcare, the leader in patient ... year’s Fierce Innovation Awards: Healthcare Edition, an awards program from the publisher of ... the category of Digital Solutions for its innovative, industry-leading product, Alme Health Coach. ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... December 01, 2015 , ... Lutronic, a ... of Clarity, the latest addition to the devices for sale in the United States. ... nm Alexandrite and long-pulsed 1064 nm Nd:YAG lasers, into a single platform that is ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... PYA’s ... Post-Affiliation Integration ,” addresses a main “pain point” for merging or aligning healthcare ... once a deal is signed. This quick-read guidance suggests that failing to ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , ... December 01, 2015 , ... ... SACC-GA and SACC-USA through membership and leadership since 2008. Gary Bruce, President ... SACC-USA . Gary has spent a significant amount of time in Sweden ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... ... December 01, 2015 , ... Nurotron Biotechnology Co., Ltd., ... largest order to date. , The order will be from the China Disabled ... Cochlear Implant System is an effective solution for children and adults suffering from ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... Sensor Networks, a leader in intelligent sensors and analytic software for sensor network-based systems, announced ... data collection of vital signs. Photo - ... ... ... ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... , Dec. 1, 2015 Ampio Pharmaceuticals, ... York Stock Exchange has established January 5, 2016 as the ... stockholders of the shares of Common Stock of Aytu ... share of Aytu common stock for every five (5) ... record date, December 1, 2015. The distribution date will be ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Sweden , December 1, 2015 ... International Breast Cancer Study Group (IBCSG, Bern ... ) to be part of a state of the ... cancer drug.  --> --> ... cancer being treated with anti-hormonal therapy in combination with palbociclib, ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: