New technology finds central Alberta lakes contain potent liver toxins

This week a news release about a technical paper on blue-green algae toxins in Canada’s lakes caught the attention of several newspapers across Canada. Here are links to a few articles:

http://m.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/liver-toxins-prevalent-in-western-cottage-countrys-lakes-cross-canada-study-finds/article4481331/?service=mobile

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/algal-toxin-high-here-study-166226686.html

http://www.kenoradailyminerandnews.com/2012/08/14/report-says-bue-green-algae-common-concern-in-every-province-including-lake-of-the-woods

Here’s an excerpt from the version that appeared in the Edmonton Journal:

A cross-Canada survey has found a potent liver toxin in every province’s  lakes, with the highest concentrations in the popular cottage and recreational  waters of central Alberta and southern Manitoba.

Although it’s been known for a long time that sewage and agricultural runoff  cause water quality problems, new technology has allowed scientists for the  first time to isolate and quantify the presence of microcystin, said lead author  Diane Orihel.

“As lakes have higher and higher concentrations of nutrients, we see more and  more (blue-green algae) and more and more microcystins,” said Orihel, whose  research was published Tuesday.

“We need to get serious about water quality in these lakes.

“This is now a human health concern across Canada.”

Microcystins are potentially fatal to humans. As well, they are suspected of  being carcinogenic at long-term, low exposure.

The SLWSS has consistently alerted the public about the potential for blue-green algae blooms in Sylvan Lake as a consequence and cumulative effect of intensive urban development within our watershed.

See other relevant posts in the Water Quality category of  this website.

When the SLWSS urges the watershed community and visitors to  “Keep it Clean, Not Blue-Green” we mean it.

Before there’s a reason for public concern today, we must understand the scientific findings of the research team. Here’s an important statement from the research team’s paper published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences:

“Importantly, the probability of levels of concern for recreational contact dropped to near zero above a Nitrogen : Phosphorus ratio of 40, and similarly, that for drinking water was negligible above an Nitrogen : Phosphorus ratio of 60.”

Sylvan Lake’s Nitrogen : Phosphorus ratio was about 34 when the water quality was sampled and analyzed for the AXYS 2005 project (see page A-96). Scientifically that means the microcystin toxin risk is low in our lake today.

Let’s keep it that way.

 

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