Baylor researchers analyzing toxic blue green algae found at Lake Belton last year
WACO, Texas (KWTX) - While Central Texans cool down in area lakes this summer, lake ecologists at Baylor University are busy in a lab studying the tiniest organisms in the water.
“We culture these microorganisms in the lab we grow them up across conditions we think are environmentally relevant,” Thad Scott, a PhD professor of Biology at Baylor explained.
His research alongside Brian Brooks includes many microorganisms including ones known to harm people and pets.
They assisted the Brazos River Authority in testing water from Lake Belton last year after multiple dogs died within hours of visiting the lake.
“We’re able to quantify how much toxin is in the water from a water sample,” Scott explained.
He says the dogs likely consumed toxic blue green algae that was found in the water, particularly a toxin that affects the body quickly and neurologically.
Follow up testing was done at Lake Belton earlier this year and no levels of toxic algae are detected, but Scott says people should avoid areas where these toxins are most likely to form.
“Be wary of stagnant pools of water if they are brown or really green in color stay out of those and keep your pet out of those, keep your pet especially from consuming that water,” he explained.
Over the last five years he says they’ve researched both how the toxic algae affects people and other mammals and how and why it forms in lakes.
“The next phase of this research is really trying to understand what triggers them out in nature,” Scott said.
He hopes with their research, it won’t take another dog dying or anyone getting sick before officials know when to issue warnings.
“We want to develop forecasting tools to give early warning signs to the public or some kind of indication of when to avoid water or what bodies of water to avoid,” Scott added.
While they complete the research, Central Texans can benefit from having them in their backyard. Scott says they regularly offer their equipment to test water for the Brazos River Authority.
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