Personal tools

Notifications
Get notifications on new reports and products. Frequency: 3-4 emails / month.
Subscriptions
Sign up to receive our reports (print and/or electronic) and quarterly e-newsletter.
Follow us
Twitter icon Twitter
Facebook icon Facebook
YouTube icon YouTube channel
RSS logo RSS Feeds
More

Write to us Write to us

For the public:


For media and journalists:

Contact EEA staff
Contact the web team
FAQ

Call us Call us

Reception:

Phone: (+45) 33 36 71 00
Fax: (+45) 33 36 71 99


next
previous
items

Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / News / Algal blooms disrupt holidaymakers across Europe

Algal blooms disrupt holidaymakers across Europe

A nasty surprise has met many Europeans reaching their holiday destinations on the coasts of Italy, Scotland, Sweden and Denmark this summer...

Something rotten: Visitors to Copenhagen's harbour were greeted by an algal bloom and a horrendous stench in August 2006.

Instead of pristine and inviting bathing waters, tourists are being met by toxic algal blooms. The recent hot and calm weather in Europe has provided perfect conditions for algae. While surface waters have remained still and undisturbed, algae blooms have flourished uninterrupted. However, the blooms are also helped by nutrient inputs caused by human activities.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are critical nutrients for algae growth. Some algae, especially the blue/green algae found in Scandinavia, can absorb atmospheric nitrogen. Consequently, they can bloom in waters where only phosphorus is present. Nitrogen and Phospherus enter coastal waters as a result of human activities, such as run-off from agricultural land, fish farming and inadequately treated waste water. Phosphorus is found in everyday household products such as detergents, soap and shampoos.

It is not unnatural for the population of algae to increase in summertime. And algae are an important part of the food chain, as they provide food for animal (zoo) planktons which are in turn eaten by fish and other aquatic wildlife. However, today's levels of algal blooms appear excessive. Most importantly is that human activities and favourable summer conditions combine to increase the levels of algal blooms. With the likelihood of climatic change bringing warmer summers in the future, today's excessive algae blooms may become more of a common sight in European waters.

Health effects of algae:
Some algae contain toxins, and therefore represent a health threat to humans and animals. These toxins vary depending on the species of algae. Some types of algae can cause skin and eye irritations, but the main risk comes from swallowing contaminated water. The symptoms of poisoning from toxic algae include nausea, bowel or intestine problems and fever.

Nevertheless, adults would have to swallow a considerable amount of water before any adverse health effects would occur. These incidents are highly unlikely and very rare. However, care should be taken with small children. Health authorities recommended that children should refrain from bathing in these waters. Similarly, pets and farm animals could also be put at risk by drinking contaminated water.

Relevant EEA reports and information:
The changing faces of Europe's coastal areas
Phytoplankton algae in transitional and coastal waters
Fact-sheet on harmful phytoplankton
The European Environment - State and Outlook
Impacts of Europe's changing climate (chapter 3.4.)
Nutrients in European ecosystems
Announcement from 2003 on algal blooms:
Nutrients in transitional, coastal and marine waters
Chlorophyll in transitional, coastal and marine waters
Source apportionment of nitrogen and phosphorus inputs into the aquatic environment
http://org.eea.europa.eu/news/Ann1155833813/

Additional information sources:
http://www.liv.ac.uk/hab/intro.htm
http://www.dmi.dk/dmi/index/danmark/algekort.htm
http://www.smhi.se/ see "algblomning"
http://www.ab.lst.se/templates/Proj_Page____8027.asp
http://www.marbot.gu.se/SSS/SSShome.htm
http://www.ymparisto.fi/default.asp?contentid=186563&lan=en
http://www.fimr.fi/en/palvelut/levatiedotus.html
http://www.fimr.fi/en/itamerikanta/levatiedotus.html
http://www.fimr.fi/en/itamerikanta.html
http://www.helcom.fi/environment2/ifs/ifs2005/en_GB/blooms/
http://algeinfo.imr.no/
http://www.dmu.dk/Nyheder/Hunde+måske+forgiftet+af+blågrønalger.htm
http://www.dmu.dk/Vand/Algeopblomstring+i+danske+farvande/Algelinks/

Germany:
http://www.bsh.de/de/Meeresdaten/Beobachtungen/MURSYS-Umweltreportsystem/Mursys_031/seiten/osph6_01.jsp  
http://www.bsh.de/de/Meeresdaten/Beobachtungen/MURSYS-Umweltreportsystem/Mursys_031/seiten/noph5_01.jsp
http://www.io-warnemuende.de/research/images/cyano_20060824.jpg
http://www.icbm.de/~freund/Research/Phytoplanktondynamics/phytoplanktondynamics.html

Estonia:
http://www.tervisekaitse.ee/tkuus.php?msgid=4088
http://www.fimr.fi/en/itamerikanta/uutiset/1241.html

Geographical coverage

[+] Show Map

Document Actions

Comments

Sign up now!
Get notifications on new reports and products. Currently we have 33024 subscribers. Frequency: 3-4 emails / month.
Notifications archive
Follow us
 
 
 
 
 
Archive
Upcoming Events
Quick Event EnviroInfo Oldenburg, Germany 10 Sep 2014 - 12 Sep 2014 — Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg K.d.ö.R., Ammerländer Heerstraße 114-118, 26129 Oldenburg, Deutschland
Quick Event EnviroInfo Oldenburg, Germany 10 Sep 2014 - 12 Sep 2014 — Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg K.d.ö.R., Ammerländer Heerstraße 114-118, 26129 Oldenburg, Deutschland
Quick Event 17th International River Symposium 15 Sep 2014 - 18 Sep 2014 — Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Quick Event 8th European Conference on Pesticides and Related Organic Micropollutants in the Environment &14th Symposium on Chemistry and Fate of Modern Pesticides 18 Sep 2014 - 21 Sep 2014 — Epirus, Greece
Quick Event 29th European Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conference and Exhibition (EU PVSEC 2014) 22 Sep 2014 - 26 Sep 2014 — Europaplein, 1078 GZ Amsterdam, Niederlande
Upcoming events…
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100