COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–A green film of algae in the Ohio River flowing downstream a distance of 636 miles far exceeds the previous most extensive cover in the summer of 2008, which reached 30 miles during a week-and-a-half period.
Warnings have been issued for boaters and swimmer to avoid contact with the water in the affected areas.
Blue-green algae is toxic to animals and humans, giving off a toxin called microsystem, which can cause liver and nerve damage. The primary cause of algal blooms is fertilizer runoff from agricultural land and urban stormwater.
Lake Erie and other inland Ohio lakes have experienced large blooms during wet springs, followed by hot, dry weather in the summer and early fall. Algal blooms feed off nutrients contained in fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus), and human and animal waste.
Last year, nearly 500,000 customers in the Toledo area could not drink water after algae contaminated the municipal water intake. So far this season, despite another large bloom in the lake, the toxic concentration has been less than in recent years and has not affected
Toxic algae has also recently turned up in ponds at two Columbus parks: Schiller Park and Krumm Park.