Protecting our water is important. It is great that our county Department of Health has a system in place to create a quick response to the appearance of algae blooms and the hazards they can create in our drinking water.
But I could not help but notice that The Olympian reported on May 19 that the county Department of Health stated that at least one of the samples was 354 micrograms per liter.
According to the Cyanotoxin Factsheet from Indiana University and Purdue University at Indianapolis, available at cees.iupui.edu/research/algal-toxicology/cyanotoxins, the lethal dose (LD50) for anatoxins range between 60 and 250 micrograms per liter.
The Health Effects Support Document for the Cyanobacterial Toxin Anatoxin-A, issued June 2015 by the EPA Office of Water at Section 6.5.4 (page 27) provides information that illustrates how in the worst case the lethal dose of anatoxin could be as low as 89 micrograms per liter, according to the EPA.
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This means that county staff are reporting lethal amounts of anatoxin in Summit Lake, while also reporting that there are no signs of any sick people, pets, or fish.
If the county’s numbers are correct, people should be at least getting sick, if not dying. Anatoxin is a neurotoxin which affects the coordination of humans, ultimately causing respiratory failure.
Given the history of questionable science coming from county staff, I hope there can be a very open community conversation on exactly what the state of our public water is.