Category Archives: Cyano Information

Information related to cyanobacteria

Algae woes trigger action against EPA

For The Dunn County News

Concerns about the effects of toxic blue green algae have caused a number of clean water advocacy groups — mostly from Wisconsin — to file a civil action against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

According to the notice letter to the EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, “Every summer, Wisconsin communities and tourism-related businesses cope with the detrimental effects of nutrient pollution, ranging from foul, smelly water to health threats, such as toxic algae and contaminated drinking water, and from nuisance algae blooms to fish kills and beach closures. Due to increasing nutrient concentrations in Wisconsin’s waters, the frequency and duration of toxic algal blooms has severely increased over the past decade.”

Under the Clean Water Act (CWA), a special provision allows citizens to file a civil action in federal court for failure of the administrator of the EPA to perform duties imposed by the act. Continue reading

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Recreational Exposure to Freshwater Cyanobacteria

The School of Population Health, The University of Queensland undertook a study of the Recreational Exposure to Freshwater Cyanobacteria. The aim of this project was to enhance the understanding of public health issues relating to recreational exposure to cyanobacteria by conducting epidemiological and laboratory-based toxicology studies.  The study produced 418 pages of detailed information.

A prospective cohort study of 1,331 recreational water users was conducted at various sites in southern Queensland, the Myall Lakes area of New South Wales, and central Florida. The study design sought to make improvements over previously published epidemiological studies, in that an unexposed group was recruited from cyanobacteria-free waters, cyanobacterial toxins were measured in site water samples, and respondents were asked to rate the severity of reported symptoms. This study has shown an increased likelihood of symptom reporting amongst bathers exposed to high cyanobacterial cell density (measured by total cell surface area) compared to those exposed to low cyanobacteria-affected waters. Mild respiratory symptoms appear to be the predominant symptom category.

This is a very comprehensive study you can review the entire document at

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Legislation Introduced to Combat Harmful Algal Blooms

Senator Russ Feingold cosponsored legislation to investigate ways to curb harmful blue-green algal blooms. The legislation, entitled the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2009 (S. 952), was introduced by Senator Olympia Snowe and would provide competitive grants to groups to research the problem and come up with solutions.  Read the full text of the bill.

On the House side Representative Brian Baird introduced October 7, 2009 the H.R.3650 which has provision impacting the studies in to be performed in the Pacific Northwest.  Read the full text of the bill.

Bill Summary S.952

Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2009 – Amends the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1998 to require the Secretary of Commerce, acting through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to establish criteria for determining which states should serve on the Inter-Agency Task Force on Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia and to implement a nominations process to select representatives for such Task Force. Continue reading

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EPA, Florida Agree to Limit Fertilizer, Animal Waste in State Waters

TALLAHASSEE, Florida, November 17, 2009 (ENS) – In a decision with national relevance, a federal judge in Tallahassee Monday approved a consent decree that requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set legal limits on excess nutrients that trigger harmful algae blooms in Florida waters.

The EPA agreed to establish numeric water quality criteria for Florida’ lakes and flowing waters by January 14, 2010. The agency has until January 14, 2011, to establish numeric water quality criteria for Florida’s coastal and estuarine waters. The consent decree allows the state to set numeric criteria before these dates as long as they are approved by the EPA.

This green slime on Christopher Point Creek, a St. Johns River tributary, is an algae bloom fueled by excess nutrients. (Photo by Chris Williams courtesy GreenWater Laboratories/CyanoLab)

The ruling comes in response to a lawsuit brought by five environmental groups seeking to compel the federal government to set water quality standards for nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus in public waters.

In July 2008, the public interest law firm Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, St. John’s Riverkeeper, and the Sierra Club.

The suit challenged an unacceptable decade-long delay by the state and federal governments in setting limits for nutrient pollution.

Speaking from the bench Monday after hearing oral arguments in the case, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said the delay was a matter of serious concern.

In August, the U.S. EPA signed a consent decree, agreeing to set legal limits for nutrients in Florida waters.

But Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services filed a motion to intervene in the case on the polluters’ side.

In his approval of the consent decree, Judge Hinkle rejected the arguments made by polluters who sought to delay cleanup and get out of complying with the Clean Water Act. Continue reading

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Blue Water Satellite Measures Water Quality From Space

It is now possible to detect a variety of pollutants in drinking and recreational bodies of water from satellite at a fraction of the cost of land based measurements.  The advantage of this technology is the ability to observe the distribution of pollutants such as E. Coli, cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, phosphorus run-off throughout bodies of water as small as Devils Lake.  The Sentinel-Tribune Newspaper reported on a Bowling Green company that has pioneered this state-of-the-art service (see article below).  For an example Reservoir Report from Blue Water Satellite, Inc. – click here

Raw Satellite Image - Lake Erie

Cyanobacteria Scan - Lake Erie

Published : Thursday, 12 Nov 2009, 9:28 PM ES
By JENISE FOUTS Sentinel Staff Writer

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio – A Bowling Green business, still in its infancy, has melded state-of-the-art technology from Bowling Green State University with an Ignite grant from the Regional Growth Partnership’s Rocket Venture program to become a successful global enterprise in only nine months.

Blue Water Satellite Inc. uses two U.S. government Landsat satellites, plus patented and patent-pending algorithms, to detect a variety of pollutants in drinking and recreational bodies of water in Ohio, across the U.S. and around the world. The science is done at a fraction of the cost, and is more accurate, than samplings taken by someone in a boat. Continue reading

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Identifying the Source of Unknown Microcystin Genes in Cyanobacterial Cells

Microcystin-producing cyanobacteria are common nuisance organisms in harmful algal blooms in freshwaters around the world. This ground breaking work lead by the Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee provides a detailed analysis of the genetic diversity within microcystin producing cyanobacteria.   Molecular tools offer an advantage over more traditional chemical measures of toxin concentration, as they may serve as a predictor of potential bloom events to come (while toxin measurements suggest that the event, and potential exposures, have already occurred).

To read the full read the abstract published by the American Society of Microbiology, follow this link – “Identifying the Source of Unknown Microcystin Genes and Predicting Microcystin Variants by Comparing Genes within Uncultured Cyanobacterial Cells

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ARPA-E Bets on Disruptive Technology Synthesizing Fuel from Bacteria

by Mara MacKinnon – Nov 9th, 2009 in , , ,

Bio-engineering has given science a new toolbox for slowing climate change: By synthetically altering the DNA in bacteria, bio-engineers may be able to convert microscopic organisms into fuel producers.

If the science reaches its full promise, drivers a few years from now could be filling up with carbon-neutral gasoline, fresh off the bacterial production line.

This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way that we power our lives and to dramatically decrease carbon emissions, but it is still in the early stages of development. That could change with a boost from the U.S. Department of Energy, which has sought to spur growth in low-emissions energy technologies through the recently established Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The aim is to invest in high-risk, high-rewards innovations that stand to transform the global energy landscape. Continue reading

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Eco Tech: Sun-powered bacteria convert greenhouse gases into fuel

CO2-eating bacteria produce fuel.

With fossil fuels depleting at a rate much more than predicted, researchers in different parts of the globe are working on means to generate alternative fuel from sources as small as bacteria. A team from researchers from US has genetically modified bacteria to eat carbon dioxide and produce isobutyraldehyde, which can further be used to produce isobutanol.

The modified bacteria are highly efficient in the conversion process and are powered by sunlight. Cyanobacteria and microalgae have been identified to consume CO2 for a long time. However previous researches on using them to produce fuel as an output haven’t been fruitful.

The US research team was successful in genetically modifying bacteria to produce fuel using a process that is around 10 times faster than hydrogen production and about 100 times faster than genetically engineered ethanol production.

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Survey Finds Algal Toxins in Indiana Lakes at Higher Than National rate

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Researchers from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs found detectable levels of microcystin, a toxin produced by several common species of cyanobacteria, in 68 percent of a sample of Indiana lakes and reservoirs.

That’s higher than twice the rate at which microcystin was found in a nationwide survey conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The national survey found microcystins in 32 percent of lakes and reservoirs.

Blue-green MatsMats of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) cover Palestine Lake in Kosciusko County, Ind., in this photo from August 2007.

The SPEA team, led by Professor Bill Jones, was contracted by the EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to conduct the sampling of 50 Indiana lakes. Samples were sent to a variety of laboratories around the country for analysis.

The Indiana sampling was conducted in the summer of 2007 as part of the National Lakes Assessment (NLA), a survey of the nation’s lakes undertaken by the EPA. The study sampled more than 1,000 lakes and reservoirs more than 10 acres in size to get an unbiased, statistically relevant snapshot of water quality in lakes and reservoirs in the U.S. The EPA recently released the results. Continue reading

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A New Source of Hydrogen Power

Algae can be converted into a hydrogen source through the method of photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is a plants ability to convert solar energy and turn it into something else. A scientist by the name of Barry Bruce, who is a professor at UT Knoxville, has discovered when using photosynthesis with a certain type of algae and a catalyst method with platinum, that hydrogen was produced when that algae was exposed to light.

 Barry Bruce is head of a team of researchers that work on these findings from UT Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. They are researching this to create a solution for a natural fuel for the possibility of even using it in vehicles. Continue reading

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