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Occurrence And Impact Of Blue-green Algae In The Uk

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Christine Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen, UK), Linda Lawton
Robert Gordon University1

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 17: Climate change, impacts and adaptation,
AbstractIntroduction
Blue-green algae are an essential component of aquatic ecosystems which may form massive growths following anthropogenic activity, most commonly nutrient overload, nitrate and phosphate. Many of these organisms produce highly potent toxins which have been responsible for human and animal fatalities. In addition, chronic exposure has been linked to cancer in epidemiological studies and whilst there is ad hoc monitoring of cell numbers in the UK there is no cohesive toxin monitoring, management and mitigation strategy. The aim of this report was to collect information, from the media, UK environmental agencies and other publicly available material and via a targeted survey, to provide a profile of cyanobacterial blooms and toxins in the UK, for contribution to the CYANOCOST database
Material and Methods
UK media, newspapers and websites were targeted for reports involving cyanobacteria (search terms: 'cyanobacteria', 'blue-green algae' and 'algal bloom'), published between 2005 and 2012. These were sorted according to the impacts described -- classified as tourism, economic, human illness, drinking water or animal. A survey was developed, composed of 14 questions covering the occurrence of blooms, species, toxin types (plus concentrations) bloom and toxin impacts along with management measures. It was sent to all local authorities, water companies, drinking water quality authorities, environmental agencies and rivers trusts in the UK, a total of 456 recipients.
Results
Results indicated an increase in blooms in the UK where the primary impact on tourism including closure of water bodies, cancellation of events and banning of fishing and boating. Microcystis, the most globally occurring toxigenic species, was dominant in the UK. Whilst cells were regularly monitored toxins were rarely monitored in the UK, despite their toxicity being in excess of many regulated pollutants.
Conclusion
In line with global observations there appears to be an increase in algal blooms in the UK necessitating an integrated approach for human and ecosystem health protection.
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