Michigan Earth Professor and Director of the Cooperative Institute for Great Lakes Research, Greg Dick, has been collecting samples from the Great Lakes for years. Recent research shows cyanobacterial blooms spreading into the western basin of Lake Erie.  Exposure to these blooms can irritate your eyes and skin, and even cause liver damage. 

“The toxin requires high concentrations of nitrogen and therefore the toxic strains have a higher nitrogen demand,” said Dr. Dick. “Increasingly, urea is also being used as a fertilizer, so that contains a large amount of nitrogen. And then the other big source would be animal waste.”

One of the reasons these toxins are meeting their nitrogen demands is because of agriculture. Urea is a fertilizer and a supplement in cattle feed. Cattle waste is also a major contributor to toxicity in cyanobacteria.

“Determining the factors that affect toxicity is still an active area of research.” 

The full article by Lester Graham can be found below.