Forecasting Change: Humans and harmful algal blooms

Heavy rain leading to more runoff into water sources

Blue-green algae blooms popping up across Central Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. – Over the course of the last few years, we have had many numbers of date points, stories, updates, and experiences in Florida with algal blooms and fish kills.

One of worst outbreaks of red tide was back in 2018.

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The impacts are not only on animals but also have lasting effects on our environment and even our own health.

According to our media partners at Climate Central, some toxins produced in blooms are linked to human reactions such as allergic reactions, gastrointestinal upset, eye irritation, respiratory distress, and flu-like symptoms. Long-term health effects from ingesting cyanotoxins can include liver damage, and researchers are investigating links to neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or ALS) related to cyanotoxin exposure.

Algal blooms

Here is a graphic look at how it all develops. The stories we usually hear are about the blooms in our ocean. But the freshwater of our lakes is also at risk. Run off from fertilizers used in agriculture and pesticides used in lawns leads to changes in our lakes that in turn create algal blooms.

Freshwater algal blooms

An increase in the global temperature is creating warmer oceans, lakes, ponds, and streams. A warmer atmosphere also leads to more torrential rainfall that washes more nutrients into the waters.

These warmer waters and nutrients boost the chances of blooms getting out of hand.

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About the Author:

Tom Sorrells is News 6's Emmy award winning chief meteorologist. He pinpoints storms across Central Florida to keep residents safe from dangerous weather conditions.