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STATES CHRONICLE – Warm weather is a joy for most people, but it comes with its own disadvantages. It’s a season of intense work from environmental officers, as they have to closely monitor algae blooms in lakes and other bodies of water. This is risky for the environment, as these waters experience growth of their cyanobacteria levels over a short period of time.
How do algae blooms occur?
You can easily identify a lake with algae blooms from the colors of its water. The algae accumulation makes it turn blue, green, or red, but why does this happen? Cyanobacteria occur naturally, but there are certain factors which cause its overgrowth.
If it’s hot outside and the water gets warm enough, and if there are high concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen, cyanobacteria start growing in much higher numbers than usual. This is why most lakes are covered in such algae blooms during warm seasons, such as summer or early fall.
The vivid variation of colors in which these algae blooms are given by the different reactions of organisms to them. There are many species of phytoplankton in the waters, and each one of them interacts differently with cyanobacteria, producing pigments of different shades and colors.
They might look beautiful, but are incredibly toxic
However, seeing a lake covered in such colors looks unnatural, and is indeed dangerous for both animals and humans. Algae blooms ease the development of cyanotoxins, which have effects ranging from the irritation of the skin to neurological issues.
Hopefully, there are some ways to prevent the apparition of massive algae blooms. Nutrient pollution is one of the main factors which lead to these growths, when nitrogen and phosphorus end up in lakes from farming and industrial waste. The blooms might be treated, but these methods are not really effective. Therefore, one method would be to reduce pollution with wastewater.
Image Source: Flickr