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U.S. EPA Issues Toxic Algae Guidelines

Officials from the US Environmental Protection Agency released new guidelines this week to help communities deal with toxic algae in drinking water.

Ever since the Toledo drinking water crisis last summer, local governments and water quality officials have been asking the U.S. EPA to provide guidance for measuring, managing and preventing toxic algae in tap water coming from Lake Erie.

This week the agency said just how much algae should be considered toxic to humans. 

When it comes to microcystin, the culprit in Toledo’s crisis, the EPA said kids should not consume more than 0.3 parts per billion. Adults, no more than 1.6 parts per billion.

Last summer, when Toledo residents were told not to drink their water for three days, microcystin levels measured as high as 1.6 parts per billion. 

"The health advisories speak to what states and local communities can do at the drinking water plant, but it’s also very important to keep in mind that we have to keep focusing on addressing the upstream sources of pollution that leads to the harmful algae blooms, in particular nutrients," said Peter Grevatt, the US.. EPA’s Director of the Office of Groundwater and Drinking Water. 

Scientists point to farm runoff as the main source of nutrient pollution that causes harmful algae blooms in Lake Erie.

The final health advisories regarding toxic algae will be completed by the agency in June.


Additional Information:

May 11 EPA public meeting online and in Washington D.C. on toxic algae

anne.glausser@ideastream.org | 216-916-6129