Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A vicious cycle?

Ever heard the song:

"...the knee-bone connected to the thigh-bone, the thigh-bone connected to the..."

Okay, I won't sing the whole song here.

But think about this:

You take tons (and I do mean TONS) of manure -- spread it on acres of cornfields -- you kill the weeds with glysophate -- you harvest the corn to bring to the ethanol plants -- you take the by-product distilled grains and feed it to the factory farm animals -- then take the factory farm manure (and I do mean TONS) -- spread it on acres of cornfields...

Okay, I won't "sing the whole song" here. But keep this in mind:

- The manure from CAFOs is often LOADED with bacteria.

- The glysophate (round-up) kills earthworms.

- The earthworms eat E. coli and other bacteria.

- The ethanol distilled grain by-products increase the phosperous and sulfer in manure when fed to animals.

Ummmmmm.... am I the only person seeing a problem with this picture? Some experts think we already have a severe E. coli contamination problem in our freshwater streams, creeks, rivers, lakes and ditches.

On a different note, here's another pesky little problem that has reared it's ugly head in Indiana.

Prior to 2001, this visitor wasn't found in Indiana waters. Guess what? It's here now ...I'm talking about a strain of the toxic blue-green algae (slightly different from the one I mentioned before in this blog). Read the full report to find out more.

Here's just a small excerpt:

Spring 2005 report, the Clean Lakes Program (Office of Water Quality, IDEM):
"Among the usual visitors to Indiana lakes during the summer of 2001 was a new and unwanted one – a blue-green alga called Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii (see Figure 1). This tropical species, which had never before been identified in Indiana, was first identified by Dr. Ann St. Amand from samples collected on August 15, 2001 from Ball Lake, a 75-acre natural lake in Steuben County."

In the same report they warn:
"State officials and citizens alike must keep a watchful eye on their lakes, especially in shallow, nutrient-enriched lakes in late summer."
In a separate unrelated scientific study it was reported, "The widespread proliferation of C. raciborskii in some drinking and recreational water supplies has caused international public health concerns. This concern is due to the potential for some strains to produce the alkaloid hepatotoxin cylindrospermopsin. Cyanobacterial toxins have been implicated in a range of animal and human health issues."

For more details on this pesky -- potentially highly toxic -- problem, check out:

Images of Cylindrospermopsis and Pseudanabaena from Several Reservoirs in Indiana, U.S.A.

And also check out:

Distribution and Abundance of Cylindrospermopsis raciborskii in Indiana Lakes and Reservoirs

(Note that lakes included within the above study do not represent all public lakes in Indiana.)

"There have been multiple reports of cyanobacterial toxins affecting farm animals such as cattle (Saker et al. 1999a, Hawkins et al. 1997) and even humans. One of the worst cases of cyanobacterial poisoning occurred in Brazil in 1996, when a dialysis clinic treated its patients with water infected with microcystins and caused the death of 76 people (Carmichael et al. 2001). Most recently, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae and its toxin anatoxin-a were implicated in the death of a Wisconsin teenager in the summer of 2003 (Behm 2003)."

More info from the same report:

"C. raciborskii is perhaps best known for its role in the Palm Island Mystery Disease (Hawkins et al. 1985). In November 1979, 149 people (mostly children) became ill with symptoms of hepato-enteritis, vomiting, constipation (Griffiths and Saker 2003; McGregor and Fabbro 2000 [Falconer 1996]) kidney malfunction, and diarrhea (Hawkins et al. 1997).

Originally thought to be attributed to the consumption of unripe mangoes, medical officers noticed that the outbreak occurred three days after the major water supply was treated with copper sulfate to control an algal bloom.

An epidemiological study of the incident later confirmed the linkage between the outbreak and the water supply (Bourke et al. 1983). The copper sulfate had caused C. raciborskii cells to die and lyse, causing the release of toxins in to the water."

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