The dangers of blue-green algae in surface water


What are blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in surface water.

How blooms are caused

Species of blue-green algae may dominate and increase excessively in water when the:

  • nutrient levels, particularly phosphorus and nitrogen are sufficient to support the population growth

  • water is still and turbulence is low (lack of mixing)

  • weather patterns are stable for a long time

  • weather is warm (although blooms can occur in cool weather conditions too).

  • Blue-green algal blooms often persist for several weeks, sometimes months, depending mainly on the weather or flow conditions.

Harmful algae blooms 

Algae bloom. The name may seem somewhat poetic, but the phenomenon is actually quite unfortunate and bears no resemblance whatever to a flower! Algae blooms in fact, look more like a paint spill, or broccoli soup. They are often green or blue-green. In addition to their repulsive looks, algae blooms can produce toxins. 

What are the potential health effects of water containing blue-green algae?

As the bloom dies, the cells tend to become 'leaky'. If the bloom contains species that produce toxins, these will be released into the surrounding water. Once released, some toxins may persist for more than three months before sunlight and the natural population of bacteria in the water degrade them. 

Who's at risk 

Exposure to blue-green algae is unlikely if your water is provided by a municipal water supplier. But if you pump directly from surface water you are at risk. It can cause clogging of filters, meters and valves and has an unpleasant taste and odour

Possible short term measure

Induss mobile units

The collaboration with Induss enables us to reduce our carbon footprint. Transparency in our partnership is also the key for better cost control of water and steam.
Johan Rousseau
plant manager, Eastmann
We sustainably reduced our demin water cost
Thanks to Induss’ full examination and mapping of my various water needs, I now receive guaranteed quality and secured delivery of industrial water for my production line and that at a fixed price for a full contract length.
Bart Vervenne
Plant Manager, Alco Bio Fuel