Finding clean drinking water outdoors is undoubtedly more challenging than finding it at home. Thanks to modern water purifier designs, reliable options are available outdoors. You can use purifier technology to obtain potable water when hiking or camping near natural water sources. In other words, cleaning dirty water to make it drinkable isn’t as hard as you might think.

Water purification is important because natural water sources contain a variety of contaminants, such as blue-green algae, which can cause adverse effects in humans. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who wants to learn more about staying safe and hydrated on your adventures, then you’re in the right spot. Now, let’s answer critical questions—what is blue-green algae, and where is it found? Sharpen your eye and mind for your next trip into the great outdoors using the information below.

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The Blue-Green Algae Introduction

It’s relatively common knowledge that a combination of warm temperatures and moisture promotes mold growth, as we often see it when it causes structural damage in homes. If you hear homeowners stressing over a water leak in their house, this is a key reason. Look at blue-green algae in a similar way.

Blue-green algae is actually not an algae; it is bacteria. Cyanobacteria is a prevalent form of bacteria in natural water sources. When warm temperatures and further heat from sunlight mix with the bacteria in water, it can eventually cause a blue-green algae bloom. This creates a distinct discoloration on the water surface but even if this bacterium is present in high numbers, it often isn’t hard to see with your naked eye. The name may conjure images of vibrant plants akin to something from Avatar, but it’s typically a deep green that spreads through the water. The algae look less vibrant and more sickly, so it’s not exactly the most enticing sight in the water. Now, let’s discuss where you will find blue-green algae out in the world.

Finding Blue-Green Algae

In the previous section, we mentioned the way blue-green algae forms in water, so you already have a basic idea of where you can find the bacteria. Does this mean that blue-green algae grows on your roof after a rainfall? The answer is no, but you can expect to see this bacterium floating atop a lake or pond, or a slick of algae along the shore where the sunlight and water temperatures merge to create the ideal growth potential.

However, even if you don’t immediately see the blue-green algae in the area, it doesn’t mean you should start drinking straight out of that water source. So, what are the additional telling signs that blue-green algae is nearby? Use the details in the next section to expand your skills for staying hydrated out in the wild.

The Telling Signs of Dangerous Conditions

Exploring the outdoors is fun, but developing sharp observational skills is vital to stay safe on your adventure. Rough terrain and local wildlife can cause health concerns, but the drinking water you find outdoors can present hidden dangers. Unfortunately, if you're not careful, it’s easy to ingest contaminated water. One harmful material you may encounter outdoors is a toxic bloom from blue-green algae.

For example, as the Washington State Department of Health discusses in their online blue-green algae guide, signs of toxic blooms include dead or sick animals. Anytime you see dead fish floating in the water, it should be a cause for concern, so tread carefully.

Pets are also in danger if they come in contact with blue-green algae. When pets ingest small amounts of blue-green algae the can become seriously ill. According to the DOH, humans can display adverse effects such as skin rashes appearing after swimming. Keep reading to learn how far the dangers of blue-green algae go when it comes to human health.

Human Health Concerns

Blue-green can cause more than a rash. As the DOH guide delves into, direct blue-green algae ingestion can cause neurotoxin and hepatotoxin poisoning. Although neither toxin is safe to ingest, neurotoxins can be a particularly hazardous toxin to drink when you’re exploring outdoors.

Unlike hepatotoxin, which can take hours to take effect, neurotoxin ingestion can cause side effects minutes after ingestion and even cause death in humans.

If natural water sources such as lakes and ponds can be so dangerous, how are you supposed to stay hydrated during hikes, camping trips, fishing trips, etc.? Hauling single use plastic bottles adds extra weight to your exploration and causes serious damage to the environment. Less than 10% of plastic bottles are recycled. They end up in landfills, on our beaches and in our oceans. Read below to discover the solutions available today so you can stay safe while enjoying outdoor activities.

How To Clean the Contaminants

If you see blue-green algae in a water source, it’s a sign that danger is present. However, water purification technology can help you avoid such risks. For instance, our water purifier bottles remove a broad range of contaminants, including the blue-green algae toxins in various natural water sources. Beyond blue-green algae, when drinking outdoor water, you can expose yourself to viruses, bacteria and pesticides . Be sure your purifier can defend you from them before drinking from the first lake you see. Make sure your filter bottle can remove viruses. Animal droppings in outdoor water carry dangerous viruses. Most filter bottles fail to remove viruses.

If you pack the right purifier for your adventure, you can remove all the harmful contaminants you may encounter and stay hydrated. Hydration is always important, but when you’re outdoors and away from a reliable source, water purifier bottles provide safety and peace of mind, so you can focus on having fun.

A Sharper Eye & Mind

Developing the skills to understand what blue-green algae is and where it is found is invaluable to anyone who loves outdoor activities like hiking. As you now know, blue-green algae is something you must be on the lookout for when you’re drinking from natural water sources because it can be dangerous. Simply put, don’t drink non-purified water from lakes, ponds, etc.

Although the dangers of blue-green algae might sound frightening, you shouldn’t feel fear when hydrating outdoors. Instead, you should be educated on the subject. Thankfully, now you have a sharper eye for identifying blue-green algae outdoors and a better understanding of why you should have the proper hardware around to avoid ingesting it.


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Water to Go

Written by Laura Randall

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