Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Scientific Investigations Report 2008-5038

Publications Warehouse SIR 2008-5038

Guidelines for Design and Sampling for Cyanobacterial Toxin and Taste-and-Odor Studies in Lakes and Reservoirs

By Jennifer L. Graham, Keith A. Loftin, Andrew C. Ziegler, and Michael T. Meyer

SIR 2008-5038 Contents | Citation | More Information


Cyanobacteria and associated toxins and taste-and-odor compounds are of increasing environmental concern. However, consistent guidelines for the development of studies assessing cyanobacterial toxins and taste-and-odor compounds presently are not available. This report provides guidance for the development of scientific studies of cyanobacteria and associated by-products in lakes and reservoirs. Topics include: background information on cyanobacteria, toxins, and taste-and-odor compounds; spatial and temporal considerations that are unique to the cyanobacteria in lakes and reservoirs; common study types, objectives, and approaches for studies of cyanobacteria and associated toxins and taste-and-odor compounds; general guidelines for collecting samples; and information on sample handling, preparation, processing, and shipping.

Posted May 2008

Download report (2.5 MB pdf)




Purpose and Scope

Background Information

Light and Stratification in Lakes and Reservoirs

The Cyanobacteria

Cyanobacterial Toxins and Taste-and-Odor Compounds

Taste-and-Odor Production by Actinomycetes Bacteria

Detection of Cyanobacterial Toxins and Taste-and-Odor Compounds

Spatial and Temporal Variability of Cyanobacteria and Associated Toxins and Taste-and-Odor Compounds

Temporal Variability

Spatial Variability in Lakes and Reservoirs

Spatial Variability in the Water Column

Common Study Types, Objectives, Designs, and Approaches for Studies of Cyanobacteria and Associated Toxins and Taste-and-Odor Compounds

Reconnaissance Studies

Monitoring Studies for Public Health and Drinking Water Treatment

Interpretive Studies

General Guidelines for Sampling

Surface Samples

Discrete-Depth Samples

Depth-Integrated Samples

Quality Control

Sample Handling, Preparation, Processing, and Shipping for Analyses

Sample Handling

Processing Toxin and Taste-and-Odor Samples

Processing Cyanobacterial (Phytoplankton) Samples

Sample Shipping

Commonly Collected Ancillary Data

Safety Considerations

U.S. Geological Survey National Water Information System Parameter Codes



Selected References



1. Example Design and Approach for a Regional Reconnaissance Study

2. Example Design and Approach for a Recreational Monitoring Study

3. Example Design and Approach for an Interpretive Study to Develop a Real-Time Model to Estimate Geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol (MIB) Concentrations


Graham, J.L., Loftin, K.A., Ziegler, A.C., and Meyer, M.T., 2008, Guidelines for design and sampling for cyanobacterial toxin and taste-and-odor studies in lakes and reservoirs: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2008—5038, 39 p.

More Information

For more information about USGS studies of cyanobacterial (blue-green algal) blooms: tastes, odors, and toxins in Kansas, contact:

Jennifer Graham
U.S. Geological Survey
4821 Quail Crest Place
Lawrence, KS 66049-3839
Telephone: (785) 832-3511
Fax: (785) 832-3500

For more information about USGS water resources studies in Kansas, visit the USGS Kansas Water Science Center home page:

Back to top

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Acrobat Reader, free of charge or go to for free tools that allow visually impaired users to read PDF files.

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: USGS Publications Team
Page Last Modified: Thursday, January 10 2013, 06:45:16 PM