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Toledo Tap Water Warning After High Toxin Level; Release by Algae-like Bacteria in Lake Eirie

Sun August 03 2014 12:28 pm  http://www.arlingtoncardinal.com/?p=70657
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Toxins possibly from cyanobacteria — often mistakenly called blue-green algae — on Lake Erie fouled the water supply of Toledo, forcing officials to issue warnings not to drink the water and the governor to declare a state of emergency.

You can’t boil this water; it only make the situation worse.

Toledo officials issued a warning not to drink tap water early Saturday after tests at one treatment plant showed two sample readings for microsystin above the standard for consumption. The toxin is possibly caused by cyanobacteria on Lake Erie that had been expected to bloom September 2014.

Toledo officials also said not to boil the water because that would only increase the toxin’s concentration. Mayor D. Michael Collins also warned that children should not shower or bathe in the water and that it shouldn’t be given to pets.

Residents told not to drink tap water, not to brush their teeth with tap water, and not to wash dishes with the water. Store shelves were emptied of bottled water as the Governor John Kasich declared a state of emergency and order the National Guard to assist with the delivery of water.

Cyanobacteria live in lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and slow-moving streams. Most cyanobacteria produce a group of toxins — one of them microcystin. When a cyanobacterium dies, the cell wall degrades and the toxins are released in the water. Microcystins are then actively absorbed by fish and birds from intoxicated water, which casues microcystin to enter the food chain.

People can also be exposed to microcystins by performing activities — even showing or bathing — in intoxicated water. Exposure to microsystins can cause visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, muscle weakness, and acute liver failure.

People with liver problems should be especially cautious about exposure to the contaminated water.

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