Rutgers Professor Can Discuss Cyanobacteria Blooms in New Jersey


Expert Pitch

New Brunswick, N.J. (June 27, 2019) – With cyanobacteria blooming in much of Lake Hopatcong – New Jersey’s largest lake – Rutgers Cooperative Extension Agent Mike Haberland is available to discuss the risks of exposure to the toxic blue-green algae.

The public should avoid swimming in or contact with Lake Hopatcong water because of an extensive harmful algal bloom confirmed this week by aerial surveillance, according to a N.J. Department of Environmental Protection news release.

Cyanobacteria are microscopic, single-celled organisms that live in fresh, brackish (combined salt and fresh water) and marine water. In warm, nutrient-rich environments, cyanobacteria can multiply quickly, creating blooms that spread across the water’s surface. Harmful cyanobacteria blooms may affect people, animals or the environment by making toxins, called cyanotoxins, that are among the most powerful natural poisons known. They can make people, pets and other animals sick. There are no remedies and you cannot tell if a bloom has toxins by looking at it, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The main thing is to keep people and pets out of the water,” said Haberland, county agent and an associate professor at Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Camden County and Burlington County. “People aren’t likely to drink green water, but I’ve seen folks throwing a ball for their dog into fluorescent green water and dogs will lick their wet fur and drink the water if thirsty. Dogs die every year from liver damage after ingesting toxic cyanobacteria from swimming.”

Haberland is available to comment at mike.haberland@rutgers.edu

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