UPDATE: Across U.S., Alarming Rise in Algae Outbreaks Plagues Lakes, Rivers and Beaches

Outbreaks of potentially toxic algae in U.S. lakes, rivers, streams and even the Gulf of Mexico continue to rise sharply this summer, according to EWG’s ongoing tracking of algae outbreaks.

The outbreaks, which are actually not algae but microscopic bacteria, can be hazardous to people, pets and wildlife. Algae outbreaks are commonly triggered by pollution of water with chemicals the bacteria feed on.

With the peak of the algae season occurring in some parts of the nation, the latest update to EWG’s algae story map shows:

  • As of Sept. 11, 70 new outbreaks have occurred since our last update on Aug. 10.
  • Between May and September, there have been at least 192 outbreaks.  
  • There have been 214 outbreaks this year, compared to 169 in all of 2017.

This summer, many people fell ill after participating in recreational activities in or near bodies of water hit by algae outbreaks. Here are some notable reports of people sickened by algae from coast to coast:

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