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HABs are algal blooms with the potential to harm human health or aquatic ecosystems. In freshwater systems, cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae) are microorganisms that can produce HABs. Some cyanobacterial HABs, or cyanoHABs, can produce toxins (cyanotoxins) that are harmful to human and aquatic health.
Environmental factors such as the presence of nutrients, warm temperatures, and increased periods of sunlight can encourage the natural increase of cyanobacteria which is why blooms occur more frequently during the summer time. Agricultural (fertilizer) runoff and wastewater effluent are sources of nutrients that have been linked to higher rates of these bacteria.
HABs have been associated with human health impacts including skin rashes, gastrointestinal and respiratory disease, and liver damage. Animals, including dogs, can also be impacted by HABs, having more pronounced effects that can potentially be fatal.
A harmful algal bloom can produce dense mats and may look like green paint or scum on the surface of the water; they can also cause foul odors.
HABS might not always be visible but are typically common during warmer months of the year and after rain events.
If you notice a HAB occurring or are not sure, please use caution and do not recreate in the pond. Keep your pets on leashes to control your animal’s contact with potential HABs.