About harmful algal blooms
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About harmful algal blooms

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  • Description:
    Algae are vitally important to marine and fresh-water ecosystems, and most species of algae are not harmful. However, a harmful algal bloom (HAB) can occur when certain types of microscopic algae grow quickly in water, forming visible patches that may harm the health of the environment, plants, or animals. HABs can deplete the oxygen and block the sunlight that other organisms need to live, and some HAB-causing algae release toxins that are dangerous to animals and humans. HABs can occur in marine, estuarine, and fresh waters, and HABs appear to be increasing along the coastlines and in the surface waters of the United States, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Responding to this suspected increase, the U.S. Congress in 1998 passed a law that required NOAA to lead an Inter-Agency Task Force on Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia, and funded research into the origins, types, and possible human health effects of HABs.
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