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Featured article / Vapor Intrusion - Separation Distances from Petroleum Sources
phytoplankton or algae can cause major environmental problems. Harmful algal blooms (HABs) occur when phytoplankton (algae and cyanobacteria) rapidly increase or accumulate, producing harmful conditions that negatively impact people, freshwater and marine ecosystems, and economies. Certain environmental conditions including high nutrient concentrations from stormwater runoff or wastewater and insufficient mixing of the water column can trigger HABs.
Phytoplankton are microscopic, unicellular, filamentous, or colonial, photosynthetic microalgae or cyanobacteria that live in water . A phytoplankton bloom is the development of a level of phytoplankton biomass that is uncharacteristically high for a given water body. Often, but not always, blooms are formed by a single species.
Consequences of Phytoplankton Blooms
Phytoplankton blooms threaten the health of aquatic organisms and the health of humans, pets, or livestock that use affected waters for drinking or recreation. High concentrations of phytoplankton during bloom conditions colors and clouds the water limiting the transmission of light in the water column. In shallow systems, light levels along the bottom may become insufficient to support beneficial submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) that provide habitat, remove nutrients from the water column, and stabilize bottom sediments. Once the SAV is gone, suspension of destabilized sediments causes an increase in turbidity, which in turn often prevents the SAV from returning. The nutrients that were previously consumed by SAV, are consumed by phytoplankton instead, further perpetuating blooms. These feedback mechanisms can trap a water body in this undesirable alternative stable state
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