Algae Eating Toxin Found In Lakes

Clear Lake Water Doesn't Mean Clean Water Anymore

DULUTH, Minn. — When we look at lakes we tend to think that the color and clarity of the water determines if it is clean or not. New research says it could be the complete opposite.

Research from the University of Minnesota Duluth and Minnesota Sea Grant found that the sun reacts with nitrates and creates a reactive oxygen species. “What those can do is they can actually attack organic matter and burst it apart.” explained Minnesota Sea Grant Research Associate Dr. Chris Filstrup.

So as pesticides from farms, lawns and sewer disposal runs off into the lakes, it creates this species. This then eats the algae and turns the water clearer, rather than green.

“If you totally poisoned a system with a bunch of poison, the water is going to be nice and clear, but it won’t be healthy. No one has really seen this before and that was really a big surprise. It’s something that we need to be careful about.” said Director of Minnesota Sea Grant Dr. John Downing. “It can become toxic to people and any organism that has blood in it. This is one of those emerging problems where we don’t see a lot in the north country right now but we could see it if we are not careful.”

After these findings, new research is being conducted on how it is affecting the entire water system.

“If it’s impacting the algae, they usually can grow under any conditions. So if it is impacting those, then it is probably having a huge effect on a lot of other things such as food organisms on fish and possibly more.” explained Downing.

“This is one of those emerging problems where we don’t see a lot in the north country right now but we could see it if we are not careful.”

 

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