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Kansas Water Science Center
U.S. Geological Survey
Fact Sheet 2006-3147

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Harmful Algal Blooms

By Jennifer L. Graham

What are Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs)?

Freshwater and marine harmful algal blooms (HABs) can occur anytime water use is impaired due to excessive accumulations of algae. HAB occurrence is affected by a complex set of physical, chemical, biological, hydrological, and meteorological conditions making it difficult to isolate specific causative environmental factors. Potential impairments include reduction in water quality, accumulation of malodorous scums in beach areas, algal production of toxins potent enough to poison both aquatic and terrestrial organisms, and algal production of taste-and-odor compounds that cause unpalatable drinking water and fish. HABs are a global problem, and toxic freshwater and (or) marine algae have been implicated in human and animal illness and death in over 45 countries worldwide and in at least 27 U.S. States (Yoo and others, 1995; Chorus and Bartram, 1999; Huisman and others, 2005).

Report Citation

Graham, J.L., 2006, Harmful algal blooms: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2006-3147, 2 p.

Report Availability

A limited number of printed copies of the fact sheet are available free from:

U.S. Geological Survey
Kansas Water Science Center
4821 Quail Crest Place
Lawrence, KS 66049
Phone: 785-842-9909

Printed reports also are available for a nominal fee from:

U.S. Geological Survey
Information Services
P.O. Box 25286
Federal Center
Denver, CO 80225
Phone: 1-888-ASK-USGS

NOTE: When ordering the report, please supply the report title and number, your name, and your mailing address. Thank you.

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
Kansas Water Science Center
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:

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