LSU Lakes top 10 most toxic algal blooms in the world

The University Lakes, a chain of six lakes near the Louisiana State University campus, has some of the most toxic algal blooms in the world, according to a December 2022 study.

Water scientists at BlueGreen Water Technologies conducted a study that ranked the LSU lakes as number 10 on a list of the worst toxic blooms last year.

In 2022, blooms suffocated aquatic ecosystems, endangered human health and proved fatal for pets and wildlife.

“2022 will go down as a horrific year for water bodies in the U.S. and around the globe,” said Eyal Harel, CEO of BlueGreen Water Technologies. “We’ve seen red tide poison marine life from California to Florida and toxic blue-green algae choke lakes from coast to coast.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three main types of phytoplankton cause most blooms that make people and animals sick:

  • Cyanobacteria (sometimes called blue-green algae)
  • Dinoflagellates (sometimes called microalgae or red tide)
  • Diatoms (sometimes called microalgae or red tide)

Cyanobacteria cause most freshwater blooms of public health concern, according to the CDC.

Cyanobacteria are a type of phytoplankton found in water and moist soil. Although they are not true algae, cyanobacteria are also known as blue-green algae. Blooms of cyanobacteria are more commonly seen in freshwater but sometimes can be found in salt water or brackish water.

Even though cyanobacteria are a type of bacteria, they do not cause harm by infecting people or other animals. Instead, cyanobacteria can cause harm by making toxins or growing too dense.

The blooms have been caused by an overload of nutrients in the water. Fertilizer and other runoff from the homes and the grass around the lakes contribute.

The bacteria is airborne when you can smell the stench of rotting eggs or rotting plants. Breathing it in can affect your lungs, throat and eyes, and getting into the water itself can cause a rash.

A restoration and dredging project is in the works on the University Lakes to help prevent the toxic blooms.

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