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What on earth is a harmful algal bloom?

Since watching Seaspiracy we've been thinking a lot about our oceans, rivers & lakes and their importance. We wanted to learn more about the effect toxic cleaning can have on them and this led us to find out what on earth a harmful algal bloom is.

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a major global issue. Just ask the residents of Florida, where recently it killed thousands of sea creatures including manatees, dolphins and whales, or the residents of Ohio who were told in 2014 their drinking water was toxic due to this silent killer. 

Why do HABs happen?  HABs occur when toxin-producing algae grow excessively in a body of water.  Algae are always present in natural bodies of water, but only a few types can produce toxins, and it takes a combination of things to cause them to bloom.

HABs need sunlight, slow-moving water & nutrients to grow.  Whilst this can all happen naturally, evidence shows that climate changes & human activity is causing more severe blooms more often.

Warmer temperatures due to climate change, and excessive nutrients from fertilisers, sewage & toxic chemicals like phosphates and phthalates (found in lots of traditional cleaning products) are making these events more severe and more dangerous. 

What's the impact of a HAB?

- They produce extremely dangerous toxins that can sicken or even kill people and animals

- They create dead zones in water by reducing the oxygen available, or stopping it completely so that aquatic life can't survive 

- They contribute to air pollution through airborne nitrogen compounds 

What can we do to reduce their severity and frequency?

- Use toxic-free cleaning products to ensure no contamination of our water supplies 

- Pick up after your pet, their waste acts as nutrients for the algal bloom to grow

- Use water as efficiently as you can 

- Try to use a commercial car wash as they filter & recycle their water 

Let's all do our bit!

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