Monday, 06 October 2014 13:20
By Amena H. Saiyid – Bloomberg Bureau of National Affairs – October 1, 2014
The Environmental Protection Agency is aiming to issue by May 2015 drinking water health advisories for cyanobacteria, the harmful forms of blue-green algae that contaminated water supplies in Toledo, Ohio, and resulted in a weekend-long ban in early August, an agency official said Sept. 29. The agency is working on health advisories for microcystin L-R and cylindrospermopsin, with plans to have them out before the season of the harmful algal blooms begins next year, Betsy Southerland, director of the EPA Office of Science and Technology with the Office of Water, told participants at a Clean Water Act policy developments discussion in New Orleans. All three forms of cyanobacteria, or harmful algae blooms, release toxics. In particular, freshwater cyanobacterial blooms that produce highly potent cyanotoxins are known as cyanobacterial HABs (cyanoHABs). These species are capable of producing compounds that are hepatotoxic (affect the liver), neurotoxic (affect the nervous system) and acutely dermatotoxic (affect the skin), according to EPA. For full story, click here.
Monday, 22 September 2014 14:55
By Megan Scudellari – Newsweek – September 20, 2014
A grisly horror show is playing out along the West Coast of North America. Remains of millions of dead and dying sea stars, commonly known as starfish, litter the shoreline from Vancouver to San Diego. Those stars are the victims of a swift and brutal illness. First, the animal’s body deflates, as if drained of all its water. Then the trademark arms begin to curl, detaching from rocks. White lesions appear, like festering canker sores. Then the star explodes as organs rupture though the body wall. The arms fall off. Ultimately, the sea star dissolves, as if melted by acid, disintegrating into goo. Researchers in Washington state first noticed signs of the so-called “wasting syndrome” in June 2013 during routine monitoring of populations of bright purple and orange Pisaster ochraceus sea stars. The outbreak continued through the summer, spreading down into California’s central and southern coasts. Scientists hoped it would subside during the winter. It did not. For full story, click here.