Cyanobacteria and Drinking Water: Occurrence, Risks, Management and Knowledge Gaps for Public Health

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With warming temperatures due to climate change and increased nutrient loads to freshwater systems, the occurrence of harmful algal blooms, largely associated with toxin-producing cyanobacteria, is expected to increase across Canada. While cyanoblooms have affected Canadian waterbodies for many years, the potential to negatively impact drinking water supplies is considered an emerging area of concern, with variations in the approaches taken to assessment and response to the risks across Canada. This evidence brief provides an overview of the scale of the issue in Canada and highlights key areas of importance for public health (PH) professionals and others involved in water management in responding to current and future risks from cyanobacteria in drinking water. 
This review outlines:
  • Key factors affecting the proliferation of cyanoblooms
  • The prevalence of cyanoblooms across Canada
  • The health effects from exposure to cyanotoxins and risks to drinking water supplies
  • The effectiveness of drinking water treatment for decreasing risks of exposure
  • Existing approaches to management of cyanobloom risks to drinking water
  • Knowledge and practice gaps for public health
Publication Date Mar 21, 2019
Author Juliette O'Keeffe