Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Green River Spreading Algae on the Ohio Is Cause for Concern

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A Green River Spreading Algae on the Ohio Is Cause for Concern

Article excerpt

The Ohio River, already the most polluted river in the United States, oozes with a toxic new menace: a spreading carpet of algae that poisons wildlife, thwarts recreation and threatens the water supply of 3 million Americans.

Algae has clogged the Ohio before, but never like this. It currently floats on nearly two-thirds of the iconic river that originates in Pittsburgh and meanders 981 miles through six states. The outbreak - euphemistically called a "bloom" - currently affects 636 miles of the river, from Wheeling, W.Va., to Cannelton, Ind.

The blue-green algae has a formal name: microcystis. It is bacteria fed by phosphates and nitrates, byproducts of sewage, manure and fertilizer washed into the river. Ingested, it can kill animals and cause diarrhea, vomiting and liver damage in humans. It was an algae bloom like this in Lake Erie that forced residents of Toledo, Ohio, to use bottled water for three weeks in August 2014.

So far, no drinking water has been affected by the unprecedented spread of the algae, but some cities have told people to stay away from the river, causing the cancellation of several athletic events involving boating and swimming. …

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