New tool helps California scientists detect toxic algae faster

STOCKTON, Calif. (KCRA) —A new tool is helping state scientists detect toxic algae faster, KCRA 3 learned Wednesday.

An environmental scientist for the Department of Fish and Wildlife is testing samples from different bodies of water throughout the state, looking for microcystin, a toxin that is a byproduct of a certain types of blue-green algae.

Watch report: Tool helps scientists detect toxic algae faster

“This is something that we would consider an emerging concern,” said Daniel Orr, the environmental scientist. “Microcystin is a toxin that is produced by a group of bacteria. People think of them (as) blue-green algae. So, it’s similar to a red tide in that people know what that is. It’s toxic to mammals, fish and birds. It can potentially be a concern to humans.”

The toxin has caused problems in other parts of the country.

Most recently in Ohio, Lake Erie experienced an algae bloom that polluted the water system for close to 500,000 people — forcing them to use bottled water.

Microcystin has been found in waterways and lakes in California.

The new machine Orr is using to detect microcystin works much faster — we’re talking days instead of weeks, Orr said.

“It allows me to be looking at 20 or so samples at the same time,” Orr said. “So, being able to run multiple samples at once brings down that expense and brings down that time.”

It also allows Orr to monitor problem lakes and waterways to stay ahead of the problem instead of behind it.


View original article at: New tool helps California scientists detect toxic algae faster


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