Idaho is joining states across the United States that are seeing more and more outbreaks of toxic algae — specific types of algae and bacteria that can seriously harm humans and animals. The most common toxic algae is cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, though they can be many colors, including blue, green, red, or brown. Algae outbreaks, or “blooms,” occur when water bodies become warm and full of pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorus – creating ideal conditions for the uncontrolled growth of algae. The bigger the outbreak, the more likely that toxic cyanobacteria will form.
If ingested, toxic algae pose a serious risk to our liver, kidneys, and nervous or digestive systems. Ingestion isn’t the only risk though, as swimming, wading, or even walking by water infested with toxic algae can irritate the eyes, throat, and skin. Many Idaho communities rely on tourism to support their economies. No community deserves the stigma of having a water body plagued by toxic algae that threatens their health and impacts their local economy.