"Environment" research area

Clays for Mitigation of HABs & Toxins

Primary Investigator - Judy YangPrimary Investigator Judy Yang
Industry Partners: NA
Award Type: Seed Grant - Undergraduate Research Scholar

Summary: Harmful algal blooms, which are widespread in Minnesota’s lakes and rivers, produce toxins that contaminate drinking water and cause mass mortalities in fishes and other animals. Mitigation of harmful agal blooms is critical to ensure safe drinking water and reduce fishery and tourism losses, which were estimated to cost hundreds of millions of dollars per year in Great Lakes. One of the most promising strategies to mitigate harmful algal blooms is rapid sedimentation of algae through flocculation with clay, a natural material present in soils. When clay is sprayed to the contaminated water, it causes algal cells to flocculate, or aggregate, and sink to the bottom. The clay-algae flocculation strategy has successfully controlled harmful algal blooms in Eastern Asian Countries for over 30 years, and a modified clay was recently proved to be effective in removing harmful algal blooms and toxins in Florida. However, this strategy has not been adapted in the state of Minnesota. Development of a clay-algae flocculation strategy is the most efficient way to mitigate harmful algal blooms in Minnesota’s waters.