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Harmful Lake Erie algal blooms worsened by power plant pollution

Researcher Jeffrey Reutter reaches into water affected by an algae bloom at a laboratory on Lake Erie. Scientists say fossil-fuel plants are contributing to the rise in algal blooms.

Researcher Jeffrey Reutter reaches into water affected by an algae bloom at a laboratory on Lake Erie. Scientists say fossil-fuel plants are contributing to the rise in algal blooms.

COLUMBUS — “Aside from their link to climate change, greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel plants also include nitrogen oxides, which can add to nitrogen already entering the lakes as runoff from farming and other sources.

Power plants could also contribute to algal bloom problems as they use large quantities of lake water for cooling and then release it back into the lake. “Thermal discharges from power plants tend to create conditions that are conductive to harmful algal blooms, because they like warm water,” [Jeffrey Reutter, former head of Ohio State’s Stone Laboratory] said.

Additionally, harmful algal blooms increase the risk that toxins from decades-old power plant pollution in lake sediments will go back into the water. Those pollutants can include mercury, arsenic, cadmium and other chemicals.”

— Kathiann M. Kowalski, Midwest Energy News

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