A record-setting number of blue-green algae advisories issued this past summer by North Dakota environmental officials is being attributed to increased awareness.
Mike Ell, an Environmental Scientist with the North Dakota Department of Health, reports that he Division of Water Quality posted alerts for 15 lakes and reservoirs last summer with potentially unsafe levels of the algae. Summer 2015 yielded only one warning, and for the summer before that, the state health department recorded no warnings or advisories for the algae.
“That’s not to say there were more blooms this year than in previous years,” Ell told The Dickinson Press. “My sense is that the number of warnings and advisories we ordered this year was in response to a greater awareness in the public and notification in our agency that there were suspected blooms going on.”
Blue-green algae is a common and naturally occurring set of bacteria which can be spurred into growth when provided with favorable circumstances such as warm temperatures and nutrients from agriculture. Blue-green algae produce cyanotoxins including a liver-affecting agent, and human effects occur through contact and ingestion.