By Sumit Passary, Tech Times
The House of Representatives has approved a bill to fight the toxic algae contamination of drinking water.
The bill will need the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a plan, which will assess and manage risks that arise from toxins from algal contamination. The green-colored algae can produce microcystin, a toxin that can damage the liver.
The bill has been approved on a vote of 375 to 37 and has been sent to the Senate.
“While it has been long in coming, Congress has finally taken a critical step to arm communities against the threat of toxic algae, which I hope expedites the U.S. EPA’s work on long-overdue guidelines. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to approve this overdue legislation without further delay,” said Representative Marcy Kaptur.
The Great Lakes provide drinking water to more than 40 million people in the U.S. The water from the lakes is also used for agricultural and industrial use. However, Lake Erie, which is the shallowest of all the five Great Lakes, has experienced algal blooms in the past few years, exposing humans to dangerous toxins.
Toxins from algae can harm humans and at the same time also kill pets and wild and farm animals. In August 2014, health officials had to issue a water hazard warning, which left people in northwestern Ohio, including Toledo, and southeastern Michigan without water for a few days.
Experts suggest that the algal blooms were due to nutrients that were washed to the lake from agricultural lands. Health experts also warn that other toxins related to the green algae can cause additional problems.
According to Robert Daguillard, an EPA spokesman, the agency cannot comment on any pending legislation. However, he said that EPA is evaluating microcystin as well as other contaminants, which are linked to the algal blooms in the Great Lakes. The agency is tasked to draft guidelines, which will help local and state officials deal with any water contamination.
Methods are already under developments for lab testing of the water. EPA also revealed that it is working with its partners to deal with phosphorous and nitrogen pollution issues in the U.S.