The U.S. Freshwater Harmful Algal Bloom Research & Control Act of 2009

Wayne Carmichael1 and H. Kenneth Hudnell2

1 Professor Emeritus, Wright State University, 3640 Colonel Glen Highway, Dayton, Ohio 45435
2 SolarBee, Inc & The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Institute for the Environment, 105 Serrano Way, Chapel Hill, NC 27517

U.S. Congressional legislation is needed to establish a National Freshwater Harmful Algal Bloom Research Plan (FHABRP).  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has purview over all U.S. freshwater bodies, but has not made regulatory determinations or established Federal policy due to freshwater harmful algal blooms (FHAB) data deficiencies.  States and localities developing strategies to prevent, control and mitigate FHABs in recreational and drinking waters must rely on regulations and guidelines developed by the World Health Organization and other countries.  The Agency has not established the FHABRP because of the lack of a clear Congressional directive.  A clear Congressional directive, the proposed Freshwater Harmful Algal Bloom Research & Control Act of 2009 (FHAB Act), is needed to establish the FHABRP so crucial FHAB data can be obtained.  U.S. FHAB policy must be developed to protect human health, aquatic ecosystems and economies from the looming crisis posed by FHABs.

The EPA listed Microcystins, Cylindrospermopsin and Anatoxin-a as highest priority cyanotoxins, and Saxitoxin and Anatoxin-a(s) as medium to high priority.  Research is needed to assess the frequency and concentrations with which cyanobacteria and cyanotoxins occur in recreational and finished drinking waters.  Health research is needed to obtain cyanotoxin dose-response data for establishing Reference Doses (ingested compounds), Reference Concentrations (inhaled compounds) and cancer assessments.  Risk management research is needed to assess the efficacy and sustainability of ecological and chemical approaches to FHAB control, develop improved and lower cost control technologies and devise enhanced mitigation strategies.  No Federal research funds currently target this research.  The FHAB Act and subsequent fund allocations are needed to establish the FHABRP, obtain the needed data and establish U.S. policy.

Congress was informed of the need for the FHAB Act through oral and written testimony (Hudnell, 2008).  The proposed FHAB Act is modeled after the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act (1998, 2004) that directed the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish a research plan for coastal HABs.  FHAB Act funds would be administered through the three competitive, research grant programs established by NOAA – ECOHAB, MERHAB & PCM HAB.  An informal coalition is petitioning House and Senate committees to demonstrate the public support needed to advance the FHAB Act.  This effort is supported by a website through which individuals can join the coalition, access the Emails sent to members and view, sign and Email letters of support to Congress – http://www.FreshwaterHABlegislation.com/.


Hudnell, HK, Congressional Testimony presented to the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Science & Technology, July 9, 2008, Washington, D.C.