Health Impacts

Health impacts

What is the problem?

Within the current legal framework on bathing water, the only parameter taken into consideration for classifying the quality the water into “excellent”, “good” and “insufficient (poor)” is microbial pollution.[1] At the same time, harmful algal blooms (HABs) combined with excessive algae growth can be a much bigger concern in coastal areas and inland waters, as their presence can lead to the loss of prestige of recreational areas, and can even pose a threat to human health.

How do EOMORES address it?

EOMORES services provide detailed spatial information about blooms, frequent updates on the quality of bathing waters, and early warnings, which enable water managers to alert the general public. Based on forecasts of increasing cyanobacterial biomass, public authorities can take timely measures to reduce risks to human health.

  • Remote sensing based on satellite data is used to provide the spatial insights of the status
  • Algal forecasting models predict increases in cyanobacterial biomass (i.e. the “AlgaeRadar”) and when and where in the water body scums will occur (via the 3D modelling of EWACS).
  • Automated in situ spectrometers (i.e. the WISPStation) Automated in situ spectrometers (i.e. the WISPStation) act as a health warning tool by detecting an increase in cyanobacterial biomass.

[1] Directive 2006/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 February 2006 concerning the management of bathing water quality and repealing Directive 76/160/EEC

EOMORES in action: Tracing HABs in the Curonian Lagoon

Frequent harmful algae blooms occur in the south-eastern coast of the Baltic Sea. The coast is connected to the Curonian Lagoon via the narrow Klaipeda Strait, which provides the only connection to the Baltic Sea. Polluted and very productive freshwater from the Curonian Lagoon often flows out through the Klaipeda Strait into the coastal region, dramatically affecting the water quality there. The Curonian Lagoon is known for cyanobacteria hyperblooms during summer, which carry a high risk of potential toxicity.

Figure one: Bathing water classification of Lithuanian beaches in 2017, based on (a) based on public monitoring data (E. coli and intestinal enterococci, Kataržytė et al., 2018); (b) satellite remote sensing-based chlorophyll a concentration (classification as per WHO); (c) based on both microbial parameter and chl-a concentration.
From left to right, the first three maps reflect the mean, maximum and coefficient variation (i.e. standard deviation divided by mean) of chl-a. On the far right, the combined result is shown, with the areas most sensitive to phytoplankton dynamics marked in purple.