This summer, 500,000 residents in and around Toledo, Ohio were alerted that their tap water had been declared undrinkable as a result of microcystin contamination. For several days, residents could not shower or cook with their tap water and they were instructed to drink bottled water while some restaurants, schools and businesses closed, inconveniencing many. What is microcystin and how did it get into Toledo’s tap water?
What are Microcystins?
Microcystins are a large class of naturally occurring toxic chemical substances produced by waterborne bacteria known as Microcystis, also called “blue-green algae” or “cyanobacteria.” Nutrient-rich wastewater and agricultural runoff into water bodies fuel the growth of Microcystis blooms such as one in Lake Erie, the Toledo area’s water source. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, these blooms “can persist with adequate levels of phosphorous and nitrogen, temperatures in the 5 to 30 degree C (41 to 86 degrees … READ MORE >>READ MORE >>