That paint-like scum that covers some Iowa lakes every summer isn’t just gross and smelly. People, pets, and livestock coming into contact with or ingesting toxins produced by the algae are at risk to symptoms including skin rashes, gastrointestinal issues and, in high doses, liver failure. The toxin, called microcystin, is a liver toxin produced by some strains of cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae.
ByBy Kate Golden/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism |
After one of Madison’s longest, coldest winters ever, swimming season is almost here — along with toxic algal blooms, bacteria, invasive milfoil and other pestilences of the lakes. The Yahara lakes — Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa and Kegonsa — are no clearer than they were 30 years ago, despite intensive efforts to improve them. During that time, lake scientists said, the increased heavy rainfalls that are part of climate change most likely offset gains from better land use practices, by washing giant volumes of pollution into the lakes.