Four hundred thousand people in Ohio are without clean drinking water. Their water, which is sourced from Lake Erie, is contaminated with microcystin. This dangerous toxin is the by-product of a particular blue-green algae. If the water were to be ingested, it could cause liver damage, as well as other less serious complications.
Lake Erie’s algae is the result of agricultural pollution – the #1 source of fresh water pollution in the United States. Large farms using tons of fertilizer are the culprit. When excess fertilizer runs off into the water system, it carries with it phosphorus, which algae thrives off of.
The Guardian.com reports that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasts a larger than average outbreak of toxic algae this year.