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Giving Compass' Take:
· Writing for the Surfrider Foundation, Holly Parker explains how the rise in harmful algal blooms in coastal areas caused by pollution runoff have caused major environmental damage, limited drinking water supplies, and death to marine life.
· How can we prevent harmful algal blooms? How can we reduce the amount of nutrients that are reaching waterways?
During the first week of July, harmful algal blooms (HABs) forced all twenty-one of Mississippi’s beaches to close. In 2017 and 2018, the Gulf Coast of Florida suffered through a toxic red tide that lasted for more than a year. In the Great Lakes, harmful algal blooms are threatening drinking water supplies. In fact, harmful algal blooms are impacting beaches, lakes, and waterways across the country. Which begs the question, as the global climate continues to warm and nutrient pollution proliferates, is this the new normal?
Harmful algal blooms are attributed to a number of factors, generally: pollution from wastewater, lawn fertilizers and agricultural runoff increases nutrient levels in waterways, fueling the growth of toxic algae blooms. Algal blooms particularly love warm water, and thrive during the hot summer months. Learn more about the growing threats posed by algal blooms in every U. S. state in this Popular Science article.
Harmful algal blooms in Florida have caused major environmental damage including massive die-offs of fish, sea turtles and other marine life. The prolonged and prolific blue green algae, or Cyanobacteria, bloom in 2016 suffocated over 30,000 acres of seagrass. HABs can cause serious health impacts to humans as well. Skin contact with cyanotoxins can cause irritation of the skin (rash or skin blisters), eyes, nose and throat, and inflammation of the respiratory tract. Swallowing water containing high concentrations can lead to nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Effects on the liver and nervous system of animals and people have also been documented in severe cases. There is even emerging evidence linking exposure to HABs with neurodegeneration similar to Alzheimers.
Read the full article about harmful algal blooms by Holly Parker at the Surfrider Foundation.