INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOWO/Indiana News Service): Algal blooms in bodies of water across the nation are increasing as a result of farming practices, storm and wastewater runoff and other environmental issues, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The blooms are naturally occurring, but produce toxins that get into the air, water or food, and can cause illness in humans and pets.
They also deplete the oxygen in water, and that kills fish, mammals and birds.
The CDC has launched a new website with public information about harmful algae, and is asking state and local health departments to keep track and report the blooms.
CDC epidemiologist Virginia Roberts says they’re easy to spot, most of the time.
“The slimy green stuff, sometimes it will look like something like thick paint in the water,” she points out. “There are multiple colors that it can be. You can find algae and algal blooms in fresh water, in salt water. They’re often very visible, but sometimes you don’t even see them there.”
When the blooms get into drinking water, the blooms cause the water to have a weird odor, often musty or earthy smelling. People can get sick from eating fish or shellfish or drinking tap water contaminated with the toxins.