Monthly Archives: May 2019

Are Algal Blooms Becoming Worse?


The problems associated with harmful algal bloom (HABs) have become tremendous, resulting to huge economic deficit and serious health issues. The accumulation of HABs in public and commercial water systems has been rampant, inflicting critical health and ecological problems among waterways and wetlands around the world.Most problems attached with HABs infestation are economic related which include lost of revenue, consumer fears, and shift in livelihoods. Almost $82 million loss has been recorded each year in United States alone due to the impact of harmful algae bloom. The total estimated deficit was taken from public health and commercial fisheries sectors in U.S. In 2005, New England’s economy was paralyzed due to Alexandrium fundyense bloom (commonly known as red tide). Closure of shellfish harvesting had been mandated to prevent the cases of shellfish poisoning, and this brought massive loss, approximately $18 million, in the shellfish industry. Texas did not escape the threat of algal bloom as the Karenia brevis outbreak caused chaos in the coastal waters. In the height of summer 2000, the fish kills spread in many areas in Texas which prompted the closure of shellfish harvesting, resulting to millions of deficit from fishery closures and costs from water cleanup.Toxic algal bloom is being feared for its damaging effects on commercial fisheries and marine environments. Algal bloom effects include the production of harmful toxins that are dangerous or fatal to humans and other organisms. Meanwhile, some species of algae can be non-toxic to humans and animals but adversely damage the ecosystem by forming large blooms that cover corals and the entire sea floor. Human health and ecosystem are at stake when HABs increase and remain untreated.So what is algal bloom? Some species of algae, including cyanobacteria, are responsible for blooms. Algal bloom happens when the population of algae increase rapidly, causing damaging effects to aquatic environments. Lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers are prone to algal bloom infestation.Algae bloom is a natural phenomenon that may arise invariably, depending on weather and water conditions. Blooms are widespread during summer or spring due to the sudden change in temperature. Most algal blooms crop up under favourable conditions: excess nutrients, direct heat, and high concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen. However, human activity greatly contributes to the expansion of algae bloom. For example, in urban areas, the nutrients from septic tanks and sewage treatment plants can overflow and pollute the waterways or systems. Likewise, in rural areas, agricultural runoff from pesticides and other waste coming from fields may increase the pollution from water features such as lakes, rivers and estuaries.An algal bloom is also part of the natural aging process of lake. However, severe blooms occur when dead algae deplete the levels of oxygen in the water. In highly eutrophic lakes, algal blooms may lead to anoxia and fish kills during the summer.It is advisable to expedite the removal of HABS on commercial fisheries and other marine waters to prevent further damage. There are number of algae solutions formulated to treat and prevent algae infestation.