Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, have become a growing concern in the drinking water world. Greater nutrient loading and warmer weather have led to an increase in the occurrence and magnitude of harmful algae blooms from cyanobacteria in the Great Lakes, throughout North America, Australia, and the world. Often these blooms can release toxic compounds called cyanotoxins into the environment, which can have damaging health effects on people, pets, and wildlife. These toxic compounds can be either located within the cell (intracellular) or dissolved in the water (extracellular). The toxin ratio will change as the bloom grows and dies.

The occurrence of cyanobacteria in drinking water sources can lead to water quality and safety impacts, requiring removal by conventional drinking water treatment processes prior to public use. Currently, there is no federal regulatory standard for cyanotoxins, although the U.S. EPA has issued 10-day Health Advisories.  Some regulatory agencies have set regulatory limits on the concentration of cyanotoxins in finished drinking water.

Chemical oxidation, such as permanganate, can be a very effective option for treating cyanotoxins dissolved in source water. At the chemical oxidant concentrations commonly used for pretreatment, it can be a valuable first barrier to reduce the risk of toxin breakthrough during drinking water treatment.

For information on how permanganate can be an effective oxidizer for certain cyanotoxins, please read the following cyanobacteria literature pieces: