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article imageStudy Suggests Ways to Control Blooming Algae

By Bob Ewing     Apr 17, 2008 in Environment
Toxic algal blooms have always afflicted lakes and seas, but they have become increasingly common because of pollution and changing environmental conditions
Out for a swim and notice a red tide moving towards, time to get out of the water; toxic algae may be headed your way. Toxic algal blooms have always afflicted lakes and seas, but they have become increasingly common because of pollution and changing environmental conditions.
Milena Bruno and colleagues in the Department of Environment and Primary Prevention, at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, in Rome, Italy have conducted a study and
their research is to be published in the International Journal of Environment and Health, offers insights into how such blooms could be controlled.
The press release
says that the study points out that bodies of water across the globe have undergone increasing eutrophication over the last four decades. Changing nutrient and pollution levels due to the release of human waste, agricultural run-off, fish farming, and changing global climatic conditions has led to an increase in algal blooms. Inadvertent transportation of dormant algal cysts in ship ballasts has also contributed to them becoming more widespread.
"Algal blooms and harmful algal blooms in particular, have multiplied enormously throughout the world over the last 40 years," says Bruno, "in parallel with human population growth and industrialization." The researchers add that extreme cases are seen in North America, where incidence increased from 200 to 700 per year from the 1970s to the 1990s, in Japan, and in Europe.
The researchers have suggested a range of new control strategies that include a sterilization program for ensuring shipping ballast water does not act as a transportation system for algae. In addition, they point to success in treating algal blooms using clay particles to kill the algal cells.
The researchers have suggested that remote sensing and satellite imaging technology could be used to monitor algal growth around aquaculture areas where corralled fish and shellfish are grown, particularly in the Far East.
These and other strategies should be operated alongside a medical information network that can track health problems, such as dermatitis in swimmers and food poisoning, related to algal blooms.
"Bearing in mind the problems caused by the presence of algal blooms and the difficulties involved in eliminating them, it is obvious that adequate measures of prevention and the proper management of the ecology along coasts and in the open sea are of prime importance," Bruno says.
More about Human waste, Agricultural run-off, Fish farming
 
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