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Toxic algae blooms threaten the Great Lakes' water

The good people of Toledo are currently without municipal drinking water, because Lake Erie is full of toxic algae.

7 Things You Need To Know About The Toxin That's Poisoned Ohio's Drinking Water | ThinkProgress

Approximately 400,000 people in and around Toledo, Ohio are being warned not to drink their tap water after high levels of a dangerous toxin were discovered in the water supply Saturday, according to the Toledo-Lucas County Department of Health.

The toxin is called microcystin, the high levels of which were caused by massive increases in algae on Lake Erie. The increases in algae, called “algae blooms”, are poisonous if consumed — causing abnormal liver function, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, numbness, and dizziness. Boiling the water doesn’t help — in fact, it increases the presence of the toxin.

As of now, it’s unclear when Toledo residents will have clean water again. According to the Toledo Blade, fresh water samples are being flown to a specialized U.S. Environmental Protection Agency laboratory in Cincinnati, which will determine the extent of the contamination.

Here are 7 things you need to know about microcystin — what it does, why it’s there, and why it’s spreading in the five Great Lakes that form the largest system of fresh water in the world.

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