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Blooming Marvellous - Algae Can be Controlled, say Scientists

by Ellen Hardy
21 April 2008, at 1:00am

ITALY - Soon to be published research could help address the problems associated with toxic algal blooms. The studies, due for publication in the International Journal of Environment and Health, offers insights into how such blooms could be controlled.

Toxic algal blooms have always afflicted lakes and seas, but they have become increasingly common because of pollution and changing environmental conditions, says an article on Innovations-Report.

Researcher scientists Milena Bruno and colleagues in the Department of Environment and Primary Prevention, at the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, in Rome, Italy, point out that bodies of water across the globe have undergone increasing eutrophication over the last four decades.

Changing nutrient and pollution levels due to the release of human waste, agricultural run-off, fish farming, and changing global climatic conditions has led to an increase in algal blooms. Inadvertent transportation of dormant algal cysts in ship ballasts has also contributed to them becoming more widespread.

"Algal blooms, and harmful algal blooms in particular, have multiplied enormously throughout the world over the last 40 years," says Bruno, "in parallel with human population growth and industrialization." The researchers add that extreme cases are seen in North America, where incidence increased from 200 to 700 per year from the 1970s to the 1990s, in Japan, and in Europe.

The team has suggested a range of new control strategies, including a sterilization program for ensuring shipping ballast water does not act as a transportation system for algae. They also point to success in treating algal blooms using clay particles to kill the algal cells.

View the Innovations-Report story by clicking here.

Ellen Hardy