According to a recent study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Nottingham, in collaboration with the McGill University in Canada, the number of blue green algae, or cyanobacteria, has been increasing recently.
The algae are considered to be toxic and have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
The experts believe that this species of blue green alga contains that affect the nervous system and the liver in humans.
The researchers analyzed samples taken from more than 100 lakes across North America and European countries, such as Lake District, the Scottish lochs, West Midland Meres and the upland lakes from Ireland.
The analysis revealed that the concentration of blue algae has increased in more than half of the studied lakes in the last 200 years.
The scientists believe that this increase of blue green algae pigments was caused by industrial sites and sewers that are pumping out phosphorus and nitrogen that is needed for the algae to survive.
Researchers explain that most water treatment plants overlook the cyanobacterial toxins that live in the water supply, which means that these dangerous chemicals can even be found in drinking water.
If humans drink the water contaminated with the cyanobacterial toxins on a regular basis, they can experience serious medical conditions like skin rashers, respiratory distress or gastroenteritis.
Zofia Taranu from McGill University, one of the researchers involved in the new study, explained that according to latest reports, the population of cyanobacteria has expanded considerably in many lakes because of industrial fertilizers and a fast urban growth.
Taranu says that even though it was a known fact the cyanobacteria thrive in warm and nutrient-rich environments, the new study reveals that the effect of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus is even more overwhelming than that of global warming.
The presence of blue green algae in water systems has been reported in many countries, including Italy, France, Spain, Malaysia, UK and Canada.
Irene Gregory-Eaves, professor of biology at McGill University said that we need to avoid nutrient discharges in the waters in order to stop the cyanobacteria from spreading further.
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