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Toledo Toxic Algae Outbreak One of Many This Summer

WASHINGTON, Oct. 2, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As summer winds down, toxic algae outbreaks are slowing in many parts of the country. But the Toledo water crisis in August, which resulted in three days of no tap water for 400,000 Toledo area residents, underscored how serious this threat can be. Since Toledo's crisis, outbreaks have continued throughout the U.S., from scattered blooms in New York's Finger Lakes to the massive "Red Tide" threatening Florida beaches. In Portland, a recent outbreak in the picturesque Willamette River turned the Portland Triathlon into a duathlon because the water was unsafe for the approximately 900 participants.

Algae outbreaks can trigger massive dead zones, and can kill wildlife, livestock, and pets. They also harm recreation, tourism, and property values. For humans, drinking or coming in contact with contaminated water can cause rashes, burns and vomiting.

Toxic algae outbreaks are unfortunately common. Since Aug. 4 when Toledo water service resumed, Resource Media has tweeted about more than 60 outbreaks in 18 states via our @ToxicAlgaeNews Twitter feed.

Summer is typically peak season for such outbreaks, and 2014 has been an active year. Resource Media is tracking major news stories related to this issue via ToxicAlgaeNews.com. This website includes fact sheets, maps, and state-level research about the problem of toxic algae, and information on how it can be addressed and prevented.

Despite general knowledge about toxic algae, the problem is poorly understood. Without mechanisms in place for consistently tracking, monitoring, and reporting the harmful blooms, scientists and policymakers lack a clear sense of just how pervasive it is. In response to a 2014 nationwide survey conducted by Resource Media and National Wildlife Federation, all 39 respondents indicated that freshwater toxic algae is an issue in their state. Seventy-one percent of states reported toxic algae as a "somewhat serious" or "very serious" problem, while 31 percent of states indicated they rely solely on local municipalities and members of the public to report outbreaks.

The broad diversity in how—and whether—states monitor toxic algae, and their methods for informing the public about potentially harmful toxic algae outbreaks, confirms that there is tremendous room for improvement in how the U.S. manages the risk to public health and local economies.

Known approaches to confronting toxic algae include reducing the flow of nitrogen and phosphorus from farms, lawn fertilizer, and poorly treated sewage into water bodies. Lawmakers have been active on the issue of toxic algae since the Toledo incident, proposing several new laws and policies and directing funding toward restoring the Great Lakes and protecting the nation's clean water supply.

CONTACT: Cat Lazaroff cat@resource-media.org 202-965-6383 Marla Wilson marla@resource-media.org 415.397.5000 x306Source: Resource Media