In the news: Researchers begin studying toxic algae in depth

The Great Lakes, and Lake Erie in particular, have seen increasing amounts of algal blooms in recent years. Those algal blooms can (and do) produce toxins that are dangerous both to beachgoers and the environment at large. Now the algae, its causes, and its dangers are getting a closer look from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. 

"Exposure to the algae-borne toxins found in some Ohio lakes can quickly lead to unpleasant symptoms, and it appears children might be at greatest risk, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that relies heavily on Ohio-based incidents.

Algal blooms are excessive accumulations of microscopic algae that sometimes produce bacteria that, according to the report, can lead to vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, rashes, headaches, fevers and respiratory problems, depending on the nature of the exposure. Most algal blooms are not dangerous, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency says.

The CDC looked at 11 outbreaks — all of which sprung from recreational activities during the summer months — in 2009 and 2010. Six of the 11 outbreaks examined by the CDC — and 48 of 61 resulting cases of illness — occurred in Ohio.

Two out of three every individuals afflicted by the dirty water were younger than 20, according to the report. Of the 61 individuals who sought some kind of medical attention, no one died and only two were hospitalized. Health effects sometimes manifested as soon as 12 hours after contact with the toxins produced by the cyanobacteria, often called blue-green algae."
Read the complete article at the link above.