An NPR member station
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

New research will help identify toxic algae blooms in Northwest waters

toxic algae lake
Courtesy of Oregon State University
/
Toxic Microcystis algae grow in a large bloom in the Copco Reservoir on the Klamath River, posing health risks to people, pets and wildlife.

People who go to the lake to recreate often find water sources might not be safe.

The scummy stuff at the top of water and in the water column is often the result of too much phosphorus. It’s unhealthy for what lives in the water and for those who walk and swim in it.

“We know that these blooms are really very prevalent, and they’ve been becoming longer lasting and more intense, and more lakes have become affected,” says Oregon State University researcher Theo Dreher. “And so it’s very relevant in Washington, as it is in Oregon, and really all around the world.”

Researchers at Oregon State University have discovered how to better identify hazardous algae blooms.

Pinpointing which types of algae have toxic genes will be a new way to better identify and remove it from lakes and reservoirs throughout the Northwest. And that will help protect recreational areas and drinking water.

Lauren Paterson discovered the power of storytelling in 5th grade while growing up in Twin Falls, Idaho. Her homemade exercise video featuring Barbie being devoured by Tyrannosaurus Rex had her classmates howling, and she’s been hooked by the power of media ever since.