Category Archives: Gardening

Cyanobacteria: Blue-green algae poisoning threatens livestock

Here is an article with a good picture of cyanobacteria. I don’t have confidence with their descrption of where it can be found in water or how it should be treated. I also don’t have confidence recommending which country is an expert on cyanobacteria. I do have confidence stating there are huge gaps internationally regarding cyanobacteria so extreme caution should be used both in how to identify it and treat it. Here is a report report74_management_strategies_BGA (2)  from Australia that I think is worth reading – even it recommends consulting a cyanobacteria expert and another website that gives good information about cyanobacteria species. I’m not a scientist, I just like to read and find conflicting information so please consult with an expert on this topic rather than follow my ramblings. Thanks.

 

Several livestock deaths have been attributed to blue-green algae poisoning in North Dakota recently, putting livestock producers and veterinarians on alert.

Cases usually occur in late summer or early fall, when stagnant ponds and the right nutrient conditions allow for overgrowth of algae, according to Gerald Stokka, North Dakota State University Extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist. However, this spring’s mild weather and warm water have been ideal conditions for algae blooms to occur.

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, typically grow in stagnant, warm pond water. When the algae die, they produce a toxin that is poisonous to most livestock and wildlife, including ducks, geese, rabbits, muskrats, frogs, fish and snakes.

Under favorable conditions, blue-green algae can double in number in 24 hours, and these blooms can turn pond water blue to brownish green.

“A close watch for unexplained livestock deaths is important,” Stokka says. “Consult a veterinarian to find a cause of death so steps can be taken to prevent additional livestock deaths.”

He also urges producers to take note of any dead wildlife around bodies of water because that could be an indication of blue-green algae in the water. The algae flourish only in the top few inches of water, so toxic concentrations typically are found just in small ponds where waves don’t mix the water thoroughly. Blue-green algae blooms do not occur in lakes and rivers.

A veterinarian can help determine if a particular pond has toxic concentrations of the algae, Stokka says.

Another option is to send a water sample to the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The lab also can diagnose a blue-green algae problem in dead animals if someone sends a liver sample. For more information on how to submit samples, contact the lab at (701) 231-7527 or (701) 231-8307, or visit its website at http://www.vdl.ndsu.edu/.

If a pond contains toxic concentrations of blue-green algae, keep animals from drinking the water by fencing off the pond and providing another source of water. Because the toxins are concentrated at the surface, water may be pumped from the bottom of deep sloughs or potholes to watering tanks.

Generally, toxic algae blooms last only a few days, but they may persist for several weeks.

Small ponds that don’t drain into other waterways or bodies of water may need to be treated with copper sulfate or an algicide. Stokka recommends a treatment rate of 2 pounds of copper sulfate per acre-foot of water. That approximates a rate of 8 pounds per 1 million gallons.

Toxin levels increase immediately after treatment, so livestock should not be allowed to drink from treated ponds for a week.

For more information on detecting blue-green algae and protecting livestock from its toxins, contact your county office of the NDSU Extension Service. Ask for the publication “Cyanobacteria (Blue Green Algae) Poisoning.”

 

 

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Cyanobacteria: It’s Easier Being Green Than Blue-green

The Oregon Health Authority gives a much simpler definition of algae for those of us who aren’t plant biologists. Click here for the full article or read an excerpt below.

 

Kermit the frog sang the song “It isn’t easy being green” lamenting the troubles of being a frog. The blue-green I am referring to is blue-green algae. What is it and why should you care? First things first. According to Dictionary.com “algae are any of numerous groups of chlorophyll-containing, mainly aquatic eukaryotic organisms ranging from microscopic single-celled forms to multicellular forms 100 feet (30 meters) or more long, distinguished from plants by the absence of true roots, stems, and leaves and by a lack of nonreproductive cells in the reproductive structures: classified into six phyla Euglenophyta, Crysophyta, Pyrrophyta, Chlorophyta, Phaeophyta, and Rhodophyta. Blue-green algae are defined as “a widely distributed group of predominantly photosynthetic prokaryotic organisms of the subkingdom Cyanophyta, resembling phototrophic bacteria, occurring singly or in colonies in diverse habitats: some species can fix atmospheric nitrogen.” it is also called Cyanobacteria.

The Oregon Health Authority gives a much simpler definition of algae for those of us who aren’t plant biologists. They say “algae are microscopic plants that grow naturally in oceans and fresh water. Under certain conditions, some algae can grow into a large visible mass called a bloom.” The blue-green is one of the algae that produces toxins (poisons) that can cause serious illness or death in humans and even pets, wildlife, and livestock.

Blue-green Algae Waves

What does an algae bloom look like? Scientists describe blooms as looking like a scum or foam on the surface of the water that can appear in various colors such as white, brown, green, or in this case blue-green. Don’t let that fool you though because you can’t tell whether what appears to be an algae bloom is toxic or not just by looking at it. The water has to be tested to be sure. If the surface of a pond, lake, or reservoir looks suspicious to you (doesn’t aways look as green as the picture above) it’s better to stay out of direct contact with the water.

You might remember that last summer there were some blue-green algae advisories throughout Western Oregon which included Walterville Pond, Dorena Reservoir, Dexter Reservoir, and Tenmile Lake in Coos County. The one issued for Dexter Reservoir could not have come at a worse time considering it was issued July 3rd. just one day before crowds of people gathered along the shore for a 4th of July celebration with entertainment, food, and fireworks sponsored by the Dexter Volunteer Fire Department and the Lowell Volunteer Fire Department in conjunction with Eugene Daily News.

2013 Swimming At Dexter Reservoir | Photo by Tim Chuey

Despite the advisory some folks did go into the water and I know I saw a couple of dogs frolicking and splashing near the shore. I don’t know if anyone got sick, but they were taking an unnecessary risk. Being near the water or even boating, as long as you don’t get a heavy spray of water hitting the boaters, is not a problem. You must have direct contact with contaminated water. “Skin irritation or rash is the most commonly reported health effect. Other symptoms range from diarrhea, cramps and vomiting to fainting, numbness, dizziness, tingling and paralysis. The most severe reactions occur when large amounts of water are swallowed. The chronic effects of long-term exposure to algae toxins are being studied.”

If you enjoy a picnic, camping, or boating near area lakes and reservoirs you should make sure the water is not going to harm you, your family, or your pets.

Canada`s lack of drinking water standards: Fracking waste water being injected into old wells in northeastern B.C.

This is not safe at all. Does our government and elected leaders understand that our Human Rights are at risk? Water.ca reports “there are literally thousands of different water systems in British Columbia—more than 3,000 public and community water systems under provincial jurisdiction and 468 small First Nations water systems under federal jurisdiction. While water systems share some common features, individual water systems are designed in different ways and will face specific issues and challenges.”  Here is a ijerph-11-04634 (2) Drinking Water Quality Guidelines across Canadian Provinces 2014 that states more research is required due to the high degree of variability in drinking water management and oversight capacity between urban and rural areas. While research is recommended our water is being contaminated due to the lack of consistent drinking water standards across Canada. Add global warming and fracking to the mix and we have a recipe for disaster of unknown proportions. If you know of any other reports that should be archived, please forward it to me through a Comment below; I would be very grateful for your help. Sorry, I had quite a few problems getting this document to look and read correctly so I`ve given up. Please read it though. Thanks.

In this Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water in British Columbia  report dated 2002 it states:

There are more than 3,300 water systems in BC:
British Columbia’s Water Systems
There are more than 3,300 water systems in B.C. The 96 systems
operating in large municipalities serve close to 90 per cent of the
population. The remaining 10 per cent of the population is served
by a variety of public and private systems:
 • Small municipalities (57 systems);
 • Regional district service areas (97 systems);
 • Improvement districts (211 systems);
 • Private water utilities (185 systems);
 • Water users communities (118 systems);
 • First Nation reserves (468 systems);
 • Individual private wells and domestic licensees (est. 63,000);
 • Others including Crown Corporations, industrial operations,
 BC Parks and private campgrounds, mobile home parks,
 restaurants and service stations (estimated 2100 systems).
Approximately 2,000 systems have fewer than 15 connections

 

Based on the conflicting number of water systems reported below, I don’t believe the BC Government has any idea how many water systems we have in BC. If that is true, then how can they have control over the safety of our water?

In this report waterreport08_web BC Govt of Health report titled Progress on the Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water dated 2008 dated 2008 it states there are over 4,591 different water systems in BC and 945 on Vancouver Island.

In this reported drinking-water-report-2011 Progress on the Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water in BC 2011 dated 2011 states there are 4,550 water systems in BC and 746 on Vancouver Island.

 

I have been watching the boil water advisories in Powell River who installed a water treatment system a few years ago and still have too many boil water advisories for my comfort level. Why is that?

 

 

In this report dated 2004 titled Please Hold – A Report on Diminished Monitoring and Enforcement Capacity in the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection it states:

“there are 320 human icons on this report’s front cover. Each
represents a public servant who lost his or her job with British Columbia’s
Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection over the past three years. Colour
changes signify job losses in a new job category. The large mass of 128
purple icons on the bottom half of the page, for example, corresponds to
the 128 Scientific Technical Officers whose jobs were lost. For a complete
breakdown of job losses by category see page eight of this report.”

The above report further states:

Viewed in isolation, the cutbacks to the Ministry of Water, Land and Air
Protection may seem dramatic. When recent history is considered, however,
they take on added gravity.

Drawing on payroll and budget data from the provincial government it is
possible to arrive at figures on just how many people and/or full-time
equivalent positions were dropped from the public payroll over the past
decade.

Two ministries where substantial cuts occurred were MWLAP’s predecessor,
the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks (MELP), and the Ministry of
Forests (MOF). Payroll data shows that between the years 1991 and 1996
employment in both ministries rose considerably. But from 1996 through
2000 employment levels steadily dropped.4

The number of regular MOF employees fell nearly 17 per cent from 4,590 to
3,823. In MELP the cuts were deeper, amounting to an even 22 per cent,
with the number of regular employees falling steadily from 2,336 in 1996 to
1,823 by 2000.

It also has a table which I’ve cut & paste below and states:

Two ministries where substantial cuts occurred were MWLAP`s predecessor, the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks (MELP), and the Ministry of Forests (MOF). … MELP was subsequently split into two ministries – MWLAP and the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management or MSRM.

Cuts resulted in employment declines by:

MWLAP 29.8%

MSRM 50.4%

MOF 27.9%

DATE MWLAP MSRM MOF

July 2001 1,317 FTEs 1,519 FTEs 4,083 FTEs
(1st Liberal budget)
Feb. 2004 924 FTEs 754 FTEs 2,942 FTEs
(latest budget)
Total Lost 393 FTEs 765 FTEs 1,141 FTEs
Percentage Decline 29.8 % 50.4 % 27.9 %

I strongly recommend reading the whole report to understand how these cuts are going to affect us with respect to fracking in BC.

 

 

Here is another report from our Ombudsman dated 2008 that is well worth reading too.

 

Acknowledgements:
http://www.wsabc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Ombudsmans-Report-on-Drinking-Water.pdf
http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/pho/pdf/waterreport08_web.pdf
http://www.water.ca/wkd-guide-drink-water-1.asp#bc
http://www.health.gov.bc.ca/cpa/publications/safe_drinking_printcopy.pdf
http://www.vancouversun.com/health/Fracking+waste+water+being+injected+into+wells+northeastern/9942146/story.html
http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
ijerph-11-04634 (2) Drinking Water Quality Guidelines across Canadian Provinces 2014
waterreport08_web BC Govt of Health report titled Progress on the Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water dated 2008

drinking-water-report-2011 Progress on the Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water in BC 2011

Warning To Gulf Volunteers: Almost Every Cleanup Worker From The 1989 Exxon Valdez Disaster Is Now Dead

This is like signing up for a war. Would you volunteer to help? Click here to read this article.

Canadian Fracking Lacks Credible Groundwater Monitoring: Expert

Between Environmental Officers being let go and Scientists still working afraid to speak out how are we to know what is happening to our groundwater except for individuals like Jessica Ernst standing up for us to speak out on our behalf. She doesn’t need us, we need her. Click here for the source of the article and stand behind and support Jessica Ernst if you can. Thanks.

 

 

The Alberta Energy Regulator has also reported the contamination of a shallow aquifer by fracking fluids in Grand Prairie in 2012.

Industry, government and media “mantras” of fracking as problem-free industry stem from a near total absence of good science and proper groundwater monitoring across North America, Cherry said.

“I found no cases where rigorous groundwater monitoring has been done at any fracking pad. Exactly zero, not a single one. Anywhere, ever,” Cherry said during his recent Toronto talk.

‘International delinquents’

Cherry also said that dismissive comments by Rich Coleman, British Columbia’s minister of Natural Gas Development, about water concerns and fracking weakened the industry’s social licence.

Last year, Coleman called a Vancouver Province editorial on the water impacts of shale gas fracking by geologist David Hughes and journalist Ben Parfitt as “unfounded and inaccurate.”

Cherry called such comments by a politician irresponsible. “As an expert, I know that British Columbia has invested very little money in the type of research and monitoring that it would need to make statements about shale gas being safe.”

An effective groundwater monitoring system, as first set out by Vancouver engineer Frank Patton in 1998, places measuring devices into specifically-designed wells that sample and track the movement of water contaminants over time and at various depths from a variety of locations. Not even the oilsands has set up such a basic system, said Cherry.

Given that industry spends millions of dollars on the fracking of unconventional deposits and often billions in certain regions, it is imperative that government funds basic research to protect groundwater and the atmosphere, he said.

Asked why government was reluctant to monitor a public resource as valuable as groundwater, the hydrologist replied that it costs money to monitor past societal mistakes. “Groundwater pollution develops slowly over years and decades. If there is anything that government can shrug off to the future, it’s groundwater.”  [Tyee]

 

Cyanobacteria: Algae bloom scuttles Free Fishing Weekend Saturday’s event at Lost Creek Lake was canceled by the Oregon Health Authority; Anabaena flos-aquae algae can be toxic

This is the most comprehensive warning I have read regarding what to do during a bloom. I do not agree with their statement regarding some  “Not all blue-green algae strains produce toxins dangerous to people or pets, and not all blooms release toxins.” I don’t feel they know everything about cyanobacteria to make that statement when there are over 1100 different species and huge gaps within their knowledge base according to Cyanobacteria experts in 2004. Click here for the source or read an excerpt below.

 

A blue-green algae bloom at Lost Creek Lake may or may not be toxic to people and pets, but it proved fatal to a Free Fishing Weekend event planned there Saturday.

The Oregon Health Authority on Tuesday afternoon issued an advisory against water contact at the lake — the first advisory issued this year in Oregon — after the discovery of a large bloom of cyanobacteria at Jackson County’s largest water body, which prompted Oregon State Parks officials to cancel the annual fishing event.

Water tests showed more than 3.2 million cells per milliliter of Anabaena flos-aquae, a cyanobacteria that has bloomed regularly in late spring at the Rogue River reservoir 30 miles north of Medford, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the lake.

Anabaena flos-aquae can produce potentially dangerous toxins, particularly when the bloom dies off. But not all blooms are toxic. The threshold for a public-health advisory in Oregon is 100,000 cells per milliliter.

State parks officials canceled the event Wednesday, but the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife still plans to release 5,250 rainbow trout there this week.

During advisories, people and pets are warned to avoid all water contact, but compliance is voluntary. Anglers are encouraged to practice catch-and-release fishing during advisories.

People who eat fish from algae-tainted waters should remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, because toxins can collect there. People should not eat crayfish or freshwater shellfish taken from infested lakes during an advisory.

Boating and fishing are considered safe so long as boat speeds do not create excessive water spray, according to health officials.

Toxins cannot be filtered by standard camp filters or by boiling the water. In-home filtering systems cannot cleanse the water, though public treatment plants can reduce algae toxins through filtration and disinfection.

Exposure to toxins can produce symptoms of numbness, tingling and dizziness that can lead to difficulty breathing or heart problems, and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting should also receive medical attention if they persist or worsen.

Children and pets are at increased risk for exposure because of their size and level of activity.

The public will be advised when the concern no longer exists.

Not all blue-green algae strains produce toxins dangerous to people or pets, and not all blooms release toxins.

No confirmed human illnesses have been tied directly to an algae outbreak in Oregon. However, at least four dogs have died in recent years from toxins in water near the Umpqua River near Elkton.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

Zoonosis: Giardiasis – the facts of infectious disease

I’m trying to find out if birds can spread Giardia (aka Beaver Fever) and after reading multiple websites it does. Most state that birds more likely get the bacteria from humans which is why most state the bacteria is found in pet birds but there are some websites stating it is also found in wild animals. So far this is all I’ve been able to find. So until I find an actual study that provides me with more information I’m going to assume that all birds have the ability to spread this disease. Click here for the full article or read an excerpt below.

 

What is Giardiasis?

Giardiasis is a type of gastroenteritis (gastro) caused by a tiny parasite, Giardia lambia which lives in the bowel.

Giardiasis can affect anyone, however, it is more common in infants, young children and adults aged from 20 to 40 years.

What are the symptoms of Giardiasis?

The most common symptoms of giardiasis are diarrhoea, nausea and stomach cramps. However, in some cases there may be no symptoms at all. After infection, it usually takes between seven and ten days before you become ill. To trace the cause of the illness, it is necessary to know where you were and what you ate and drank in the fortnight before you became ill.

Illness may last from a few days to weeks.

Where are Giardia found?

Giardia lambia parasites are found in humans and in wild, farm and pet animals.

How does Giardiasis spread?

Giardiasis occurs when Giardia parasites are taken in by mouth and the most common way this happens is by person-to-person spread.

People with giardiasis have Giardia lambia parasites in their faeces. If these people do not wash their hands properly after going to the toilet, then contaminated hands can spread the parasites to surfaces and objects which will be touched by other people. Contaminated hands can also spread the parasites to food which may be eaten by other people.

Hands can also become contaminated with parasites when a person changes the nappy of an infant with giardiasis.

People and animals can carry Giardia in the faeces without having any symptoms. These people or animals can still pass the disease on to others.

Pets, farm animals and contaminated drinking water can also spread Giardia parasites.

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I think I may have Giardiasis – what should I do?

If you have symptoms of giardiasis, report them to your doctor immediately. This will ensure that you receive proper treatment and advice and that steps are taken to reduce the spread of the disease.

Can I still work?

Food handlers, child care workers and health care workers with giardiasis must not work until symptoms have stopped.

Children must not attend child care centres, kindergartens or school until symptoms have stopped.

How can I stop spreading it to my family?

In your household the risk of spreading giardiasis can be reduced. It is very important that people with giardiasis or gastroenteritis do not prepare or handle food which will be eaten by other people and that no one shares their towel or face washer.

How can I avoid getting Giardiasis?

By following the guidelines below, everyone can do something to avoid getting giardiasis.

Careful hand washing

Everyone should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and hot running water for at least ten seconds:

  • before preparing food
  • before eating
  • after going to the toilet or changing nappies
  • after smoking
  • after using a tissue or handkerchief
  • after working in the garden
  • after playing with pets

Food handlers should use disposable paper towels or an air dryer to dry their hands. Cloth towels are not recommended as they get dirty quickly and can spread germs from one person to another.

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Safe food storage and handling

  • Thoroughly cook all raw foods.
  • Thoroughly wash raw vegetables before eating.
  • Reheat food until the internal temperature of the food reaches at least 75 degrees C.

Note for microwave oven users

Remember that part of the microwave cooking process, includes standing time. If a microwave oven is used, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and observe these standing times to ensure the food is completely cooked before it is eaten.

Household cleaning

Bathrooms and toilets must be cleaned often to avoid the spread of infections. Pay particular attention to toilet seats and handles, taps and nappy change tables.

Sandpits can become contaminated with animal faeces and urine. Rake the sand frequently and remove any animal faeces. Cover the area when not in use.

Water from untreated sources

Untreated water that comes directly from lakes or rivers may be contaminated with faeces from people or animals. Boil water from these sources before drinking it.

Child care centres

Children are particularly susceptible to giardiasis. Nappy changing and children’s lack of proper hygiene makes the transmission of this disease in child care settings particularly high. It is important that thorough hand washing and cleaning procedures are being followed in the child care centre to control the spread of these parasites.