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State develops map to track harmful algal blooms

NARA & DVIDS Public Domain Archive

A harmful algal bloom may leave a lake with a bright green or oil-like surface, caused by an overgrowth of toxic cyanobacteria.

Health officials advise people to avoid coming into contact with these types of blooms - and a new map can help people do just that.

Alex Rafalski is an epidemiologist with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. She said the map is meant to make information on harmful algal blooms more accessible after reports are submitted.

“Reports and any results of a toxins test go into a database, and it’s that database that feeds the map,” she said.

Rafalski said the map shows only verified algal blooms - so people should still be on the lookout for harmful blooms when recreating.

The map will be updated weekly. People can report suspected algal blooms to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.

Algal blooms map
Web view of the Michigan harmful algal bloom map.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corp Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She is covering rural environmental issues, public health and Michigan commerce. Homsi has a bachelor’s from Central Michigan University in environmental studies, journalism and anthropology. During her undergraduate, she was a beat reporter for CMU’s student newspaper Central Michigan Life and interned for the Huron Daily Tribune. She has also interned for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy in the superfund section. *Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms, more info at