World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe
Eutrophication and health
Eutrophication and health
Algal blooms, “red tides”, “green tides”, fish kills, inedible shellfish, blue algae and public health threats. What is the common link ? The answer is, EUTROPHICATION: a complex process which occurs both in fresh and marine waters, where excessive development of certain types of algae disturbs the aquatic ecosystems and becomes a threat for animal and human health. The primary cause of eutrophication is an excessive concentration of plant nutrients originating from agriculture or sewage treatment. The purpose of this booklet is to describe in a simple way the causes of eutrophication, the environmental effects, the associated nuisances and health risk as well as the preventive and mitigating measures. It is hoped that the booklet, which represents a collaborative effort between the European Commission and the WHO, will contribute to a better understanding of the problem of eutrophication and a more effective control of nutrient enrichment in our lakes, rivers ans seas.
Dr Günter KLEIN
Head of office WHO European Centre for Environment and Health Bonn Office
Director Environment Quality and Natural Resources European Commission
A great deal of additional information on the European Union is available on the Internet. It can be accessed through the Europa server (http://europa.eu.int). Cataloguing data can be found at the end of this publication. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2002 ISBN 92-894-4413-4 © European Communities, 2002 Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged. Printed in France - PRINTED ON WHITE CHLORINE-FREE PAPER
Local authorities - this publication is meant for you
WHO’s Regional Office for Europe is regularly approached to provide technical or practical advice on a large number of questions related to health and the environment. Experts and many other partners have together drawn up a series of documents which will help you solve your environment and health problems. The recommendations are ranked by priorities, so that strategies can be developed which are appropriate to the local context. marks the recommendations that must be put into effect in order to ensure a safe and clean environment. All local authorities have a duty to tackle these tasks immediately.
identifies the recommendations that will yield marked improvements in people’s health and should be regarded as priority actions.
Pr Laura Volterra Has been since 1983 research manager at Istituto Superiore di Sanita’ in Rome (Italy). She has worked in algal biotoxin problem, and has a wide experience in microbiology of drinking water and bathing water.
marks the recommendations that will, if they are implemented, substantially improve the local environment. Everyone’s quality of life will benefit from these. The unranked recommendations are designed to help you draw up strategies at local level and will not, in general, have a direct effect on health. This pamphlet has been written to enable local authorities to take fully informed decisions. The annexes contain practical information which will help technical personnel and those in charge of public relations in their daily work. Titles already published or in preparation are listed on the inside back cover.
Dr Marc Boualam Marc Boualam has a PhD in Chemistry and Microbiology of Water from the University of Nancy, France. He has been working in fields related to the quality of drinking and raw waters in collaboration with scientific and industrial organizations.
Other main contributors
Prof. Alain Ménesguen, Mr Jean-Pierre Duguet, Mr Jean Duchemin, Mr Xavier Bonnefoy.
Conseiller régional pour l’environnement et la santé/écologie
Algal bloom in sea-water