About Microcystins

What was the cause of the microcystin water crisis?

Microcystin is one of the toxins that is produced by a cyanobacteria bloom (sometime called blue green algae). The bloom is so large that it can easily be seen in outer space. The toxin is produced when the cyanobacteria cells die or their cell structure is ruptured. Microcystin is extremely toxic at levels above 1 part per billion, according to the World Health Organization. This would be equivalent to 1 drop of water in a swimming pool. This toxin is more deadly than cobra venom and the nerve gas sarin. 

What are the health effects of microcystin?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency and the World Health Organization, microcystin can cause vomiting, diarrhea, damage to the eye, liver abnormalities, liver tumors, and death.

How long will the blue-green algae bloom in Lake Erie last and what is the cause of the outbreak?

The cyanobacteria blooms usually last through mid to late September. The western basin of Lake Erie experiences the drainage from all the upper great lake watershed. Excessive phosphorus and nitrogen literally fertilize the unwanted blue-green algae bloom creating uncontrolled growth.

Is the Toledo tap water safe?

This depends on what you believe. The tap water is likely “safer” than it was on Saturday, August 2, but there are questions regarding other issues with the water. The lake water has a lot of organic matter (the remains of dead organisms such as plants and animals and their waste products). This organic matter can react with the chlorine, that is added to kill bacteria, to create carcinogenic compounds called Trihalomethanes. These compounds are already present in Toledo’s tap water but are barely under the maximum contaminant level of 80 parts per billion. People who drink water containing total Trihalomethanes in excess of the MCL over many years could experience liver, kidney, or central nervous system problems and increased risk of cancer. To take a water sample,
follow these steps.

Should I change my water filter?

Yes, all water filters should be changed. This includes all pitcher, faucet mount, refrigerator, inline, and cartridge filters. Be careful not to touch the old cartridge with your bare skin, use a clean latex or plastic glove. 

Should I change the filters on my Reverse Osmosis system?

Yes, just like basic water filters, all water filters on a reverse osmosis system should be changed.  This does not include the Reverse Osmosis membrane. Membranes are not likely affected by the toxin as they do not retain the contaminants but reject them down the drain. These membranes should be checked for their ability to reject the dissolved solids. In order to determine the performance of the membrane, we encourage anyone with a reverse osmosis system (regardless of the manufacturer) to have their membrane checked. We offer free membrane checks, please follow our instructions following, on how to take a sample.

Are there any options available besides home water treatment systems?

Toledo Water Conditioning offers purified reverse osmosis water for only 35₵ per gallon. This is an extremely high quality water (better than distilled) and tastes great, we have labs that use this same water. We encourage you to make your coffee, tea, juice, soup, ice, etc. with this water. You may bring in your own clean water container or purchase ours.  We are open from 8:30 – 5:00 Monday through Friday.

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