City Labs: Can Florida’s Toxic Algae Be Stopped?

City Labs: Written by Rebecca Renner. July 18, 2018.

Toxic blue-green algae has bloomed again in Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s largest lake, an outbreak so severe that Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in seven counties. While the term “algae bloom” might not sound dangerous, it is an outbreak of cyanobacteria that presents a significant risk to public health.

In early July, the bloom was reported to cover more than 90 percent of Lake Okeechobee’s surface. The green sludge has crept outward from the lake and filled waterways with a putrid sludge that locals say smells like mold. News reports are warning residents to keep children and animals away from contaminated water. According to the CDC, ingesting it—including through consumption of marine animals like oysters—is the most dangerous type of exposure. Effects can include skin, nose, eye, and throat irritation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

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