ALGAE BLOOM – FAQ
Below is some information that might be helpful, with respect to the recent Algae
Bloom and resulting contamination of the water supply to Toledo, Ohio:
“...Cyanobacterial cells range in size from 0.5-1 μm to 40 μm in diameter...”
In other words, it's a long skinny bacteria.
Internet research seems to indicate that cyanobacteria are even larger, typically
on the scale of 150 micrometers in size.
While we have not tested the specific microbes associated with Algae Blooms, we
have tested other pathogenic bacteria and two viruses, which are a small fraction
of the size of these microbes.
To understand the difference between the size of pathogenic bacteria and
viruses, we suggest the following web link as it will give you a great visual of the
The University of Utah Cell Size and Scale Chart:
Slide the scale at the bottom to see the size of virus vs bacteria vs other potential
contaminates and magnify to greater levels.
Black BerkeyTM purification elements have been tested to remove both
pathogenic bacteria and viruses to greater than the EPA purification standards.
This suggests that larger bacteria, such as cyanobacteria, should also be
effectively removed. Without test data on that specific microbe however, NMCL
does not make that specific claim.
The MS-2 virus is 24-26 nm in size.
The Fr Coliphage virus is 25nm in size.
In other words, they are over 1,000 times smaller than Cyanobateria.
Additionally Microcystins, which are the chemical contaminates resulting from
cyanobacteria are an organic chemical. Testing of Black BerkeyTM elements has
demonstrated they are extremely efficient at removing organic chemicals.
The EPA defines Microcystins as: “...toxins produced by cyanobacteria.
Cyanobacteria are also known as blue-green algae and are ubiquitous in surface water
when conditions are favorable for growth and formation of algal blooms. Cyanobacteria
release toxins upon cell death or lysis. When released, toxins may persist for weeks to
months. Toxins of most concern are microcystins. Microcystins take their name from the
genera Microcystis. Most microcystins are hepatotoxins (liver toxins). Hepatotoxins are
produced by species of the genera Microcystis, Anabena, Nodularia, Oscillatoria among
others. Most microcystins are associated with Microcystis aeruginosa. While the liver is
the primary target of microcystins, it is also a skin, eye and throat irritant...”
Further, the EPA states that: “...The following processes are considered effective for
the removal/oxidation of microcystin:.... powdered activated carbon (up to 100% for
some microcystins but less so for others), granular activated carbon (time-dependent
from 100% near start up to 38 to 73% at 3.5 months...”
Finally, the EPA states that: “...Removal of total microcystins, M-LR, and M-LA, in
water by granular activated carbon (GAC) can be very effective where the effectiveness
is based on the empty bed contact time, the carbon's age, and possible biodegradation
of the toxin. Time-dependent monitoring in a full-scale plant ranged 43 to 60 percent
removal for M-LR. Time-dependent monitoring in pilot-scale studies ranged from greater
than 99 percent at one month to 73 percent at 3.5 months for M-LR, and from greater
than 99 percent at one month to 38 percent at 3.5 months for M-LA...”
Based upon the above Internet research, Black BerkeyTM element microbe and
organic chemical removal test data and the information provided by the EPA in
their reference material cited above; these all suggest that Berkey® water
purification systems should be extremely effective at removing and reducing
contaminates resulting from the current algae bloom. NMCL also highly
recommends that whenever possible, the cleanest source water available should always be utilized.