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Climate change and dangerous waters

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Fall is a wonderful time for walks along a lake, river, or other waterfront. But, partially due to climate change, it’s also when toxic blue-green algae blooms are most likely to occur in state waters. Cyanobacteria blooms along the shores of a Bateman Island in the Columbia River. “Data suggests that the effects of climate change, including warmer temperatures and fewer days without clouds, lead to an increase in harmful algal blooms (HABs),” said Joan Hardy, Ph.D., a DOH expert on HABs. “We are more likely to see more toxic blooms as warm weather and droughts intensify.”

Toxins from blue-green algae blooms, also known as toxic cyanobacteria blooms, can sicken people and animals. Understanding why they happen and how to avoid them is important.

Most blooms occur in September and October. But toxic blooms happen year-round. A combination of warm temperatures, sunlight, and nutrient-rich waters can cause cyanobacteria to reproduce rapidly, or “bloom.” A bloom can cloud a clear lake, pond, or ditch in a few days. The toxins in blooms are especially dangerous to children and can cause severe reactions in adults .

Harmful algal blooms are in the news a lot recently. At least 7 pet dogs died this summer […]

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