14 February 2011

All in all a quiet week.  Perhaps the most interesting and potentially very worrying are concerns raised in German dailies (see also and also) regarding risks to health from cyanobacterial preparations, such as those made from cultures of Spirulina and Aphanizomenon.  For some time there have been muttered concerns about the advisability of these supplements and, oddly, there have been no comments from the scientific community.  Personally, I am not sure how these preparations made it through FDA and similar approvals.  I know people who became very ill indeed after short periods of taking them.  However, one manufacturer claims that in Germany, physicians are using algae to treat children with ADHD instead of the traditional Ritalin!

The second important issue is the announcement that the microcystin toxins produced by cyanobacteria may well be estrogenic – i.e. compounding the pharmaceutical EDC problem our surface waters already face.  This implies that the feminization problems we are seeing may have more to do with nutrient enrichment than we thought – but long expected!

Articles continue to warn of the dangers posed by the phosphorus overload in our freshwater resources.  On the flip side of this coin, salmon stocks are being rebuilt by placing bags of fertilizer in streams!  This should create some interesting discussions in Canada!

In Tempe (Arizona, not Bloemfontein!), water quality and the risk of algal problems is worrying recreational users.  Down in Oz, another lake with a tongue-twister name, Lake Tuggeranong, has had an algal alert issued, while yet another alert has been issued for the Torrens River (Adelaide).  Across the pond, officials in Rotorua are making excellent progress reducing P-levels getting to lakes. This week’s Operations Monitoring and Regulation Committee heard that achievements included significantly improving Lake Rotoiti’s water quality, completing all the actions in Lake Ōkaro’s Action Plan, securing half the land use change required for the Lake Ōkāreka Catchment and commissioning the Puarenga Stream phosphorus-locking plant.

Further up in Canada, Grand Lake St Mary’s, which has experienced a long winter toxic algal bloom, has had the “do not eat fish” restriction lifted, but there are other controversies emerging!  Also from Canada, I am pleased to see that PETA can now get involved with cyanobacteria as fur farming has been linked to water pollution!

Down in Salt Lake City area (Utah, USA), the local legislature has an idiot for a Representative.  Stephen Sandstrom (R) says he has received dozens of complaints from constituents about spotty dishes and white film. He maintains phosphorus has very little environmental impact.  Good one Steve, do some reading!

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