During the summer of 2016, significant algae blooms developed in Utah Lake, the Jordan River, and several other reservoirs which serve the public as irrigation or drinking water sources. The blooms were not a new occurrence, but differed this year by the size and intensity of the blooms. The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) deemed the Utah Lake and Jordan River blooms to be health hazards and closed the lake to recreational activities and halted the use of the water for irrigation purposes.
The toxic nature of these blooms lies in their ability to form a mat on the surface of the water. This allows the retention of debris and a breeding ground for potentially harmful bacteria. In addition, the algae sometimes will emit neurotoxins in trace amount as a defense mechanism against aquatic life that feed on the algae. The feeders can sense the neurotoxins and will then leave the algae alone. The algae do not always produce the neurotoxins. The presence of algae does not predict the presence of the neurotoxins.
Chemtech-Ford Laboratories developed tests for the two most common neurotoxins of Microcystins-LR and Nodularin-L using our HPLC/MS/MS system and following EPA method 544, “Determination of Microcystins and Nodularin in Drinking Water by Solid Phase Extraction and Liquid Chromatography/Tandem Mass Spectrometry.” The compounds are produced by cyanobacteria at low parts per billion levels.
Chemtech’s reporting limits for the tests are:
Microsysteins-LR 0.1 ug/L
Nodularin 0.01 ug/L