Press Release

Calgon Carbon Offers Effective and Affordable Solutions for Harmful Algal Toxins

Pittsburgh, PA  –  03/23/2015

  • House Passes Bill to Direct EPA to Investigate Algal Toxin Impact on  Drinking Water
  • Senate Takes Up Similar Initiative to Protect Drinking Water and Local Economies

Many water treatment processes can help protect against the intrusion of algal toxins into drinking water systems.  One of the most effective and affordable treatment options is granular activated carbon (GAC) which is already in use for such purposes in many locations across the United States.

Granular Activated Carbon for Treatment of Algal Toxins

In August 2014, more than 400,000 residents in Toledo, OH lost access to drinking water when the Toledo Drinking Water Treatment System shut down because of algal blooms on Lake Erie.  Interestingly, the 30,000 residents of Bowling Green, OH –down river from Toledo, using the same Lake Erie water – remained unaffected.

The difference was the use of granular activated carbon at the Bowling Green Drinking Water Treatment Plant.  Granular activated carbon is used by hundreds of drinking water treatment plants across the United States to remove undesirable chemicals – including disinfection by-products, pharmaceuticals, unpleasant tastes and odors, and much more – from the drinking water provided to local communities.  At drinking water treatment plants such as Bowling Green, OH, Celina, OH, and many more, its use also protects the community from potentially harmful algal toxins.  Granular activated carbon (GAC) is one of the most effective and affordable drinking water treatment processes to protect against the intrusion of algal toxins into the drinking water system.

Not only does a community suffer major inconvenience when a drinking water treatment plant shuts down, it also experiences major economic damage as retail stores, malls, restaurants, schools, public facilities, and many other businesses are forced to close.

The use of GAC for the treatment of drinking water is a well-established practice among municipal water utilities in the United States. Since the 1960s, GAC has been used to remove dissolved organic compounds from water, including those emanating from algal blooms, chemical spills, and oil spills. GAC has also proven effective in removing microcystins and anatoxins as well as Cylindrotoxins and saxitoxins.

The ability of GAC to protect against algal toxins while simultaneously addressing other critical challenges, such as carcinogenic disinfection by-products, volatile organic compounds, endocrine disrupting compounds and many others, makes the treatment a uniquely effective and affordable solution for municipal water providers. 

UV Oxidation is another effective treatment option for drinking water facilities facing algal toxin challenges. Calgon Carbon is the only company that provides both granular activated carbon and UV-oxidation for treatment of drinking water contamination, including algal toxins.


Legislative Activity

The outbreaks of harmful algae blooms and the occurrence of harmful algal toxins have been detected across the United States.  Recognizing the need to address this national challenge, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on February 24, 2015 to approve HR 212 which directs the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a strategic plan to assess and manage the risks associated with algal toxins in drinking water.  The U.S. Senate has taken up a similar bill (S 460). 

About Algal Toxins

Algae occur naturally in both marine and fresh water. Nurtured by sunlight, warm water temperatures, and a food source (typically phosphorus), algae can bloom on water surfaces. Harmful algal blooms can cause a variety of problems to the environment, as well as posing a threat to human health.  People coming in contact with water contaminated with algal toxins experience flu-like symptoms and/or a skin rashes.

Of particular interest to water and health experts is blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria. There are over 3,000 known species of cyanobacteria and they can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions. While not all of these species produce toxins, those that do can produce a variety of harmful substances, including Hepatotoxin, Neurotoxin, Dermatotoxin, Cytotoxin and Endotoxin – all of which impact the human body and its organs in a harmful and sometimes fatal way.

Of these toxins, the three most widely recognized as being linked to human health issues are:

  • Microcystin-LR (hepatotoxin)
  • Cylindrospermopsin (hepatotoxin)
  • Anatoxin-A (neurotoxin)

Microcystin-LR has been widely detected in North and South Dakota, New Mexico, Arkansas, and the Pacific Northwest, as well as in the Great Lakes region and other states as well.  Other cyanobacteria, such as Cylindrospermopsin and Anatoxin-A have been discovered from Florida to Nebraska and Washington state.

Media Inquires: Amanda Mushrush

Technical Inquires: Leo Zappa


Pure Water.  Clean Air.  Better World.

Calgon Carbon Corporation (NYSE:CCC), headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a global leader in innovative solutions, high quality products and reliable services designed to protect human health and the environment from harmful contaminants in water, and air.  As a leading manufacturer of activated carbon, with broad capabilities in ultraviolet light disinfection, the Company provides purification solutions for drinking water, wastewater, pollution abatement, and a variety of industrial and commercial manufacturing processes.