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Blue Green Algae Fact Sheet
Background
Blue-green algae are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams. Some blue-green algae can produce algal toxins that could pose a health risk to people and animals when they are exposed to them in large enough quantities. This fact sheet answers questions about blue-green algae and algal toxins.

What are blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams. They are usually present in low numbers. However, blue-green algae can grow quickly and become very abundant in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface waters that receive a lot of sunlight. When this occurs, they can form blooms that discolor the water or produce floating rafts or scums on the surface of the water. These blooms are primarily a concern during the summer months in Illinois.

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Flooding raises pollution fears - Swamped farm fields and gorged rivers could worsen pollution worries for the flooded Lake Champlain because of the high amount of phosphorus that has washed into it. Heavy rains and snowmelt have caused the Winooski River to dump into the lake about 77 metric tons of phosphorus – that is more phosphorous than the amount that is discharged into the lake from all 60 wastewater treatment plants.


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