- Selective suppression of harmful cyanobacteria in an entire lake with hydrogen peroxide
- Water Research
- Volume | Issue number
- 46 | 5
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Although harmful cyanobacteria form a major threat to water quality, few methods exist for the rapid suppression of cyanobacterial blooms. Since laboratory studies indicated that cyanobacteria are more sensitive to hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) than eukaryotic phytoplankton, we tested the application of H2O2 in natural waters. First, we exposed water samples from a recreational lake dominated by the toxic cyanobacterium Planktothrix agardhii to dilute H2O2. This reduced the photosynthetic vitality by more than 70% within a few hours. Next, we installed experimental enclosures in the lake, which revealed that H2O2 selectively killed the cyanobacteria without major impacts on eukaryotic phytoplankton, zooplankton, or macrofauna. Based on these tests, we introduced 2 mg L−1 1 (60 mM) of H2O2 homogeneously into the entire water volume of the lake with a special dispersal device, called the water harrow. The cyanobacterial population as well as the microcystin concentration collapsed by 99% within a few days. Eukaryotic phytoplankton (including green algae, cryptophytes, chrysophytes and diatoms), zooplankton and macrofauna remained largely unaffected. Following the treatment, cyanobacterial abundances remained low for 7 weeks. Based on these results, we propose the use of dilute H2O2 for the selective elimination of harmful cyanobacteria from recreational lakes and drinking water reservoirs, especially when immediate action is urgent and/or cyanobacterial control by reduction of eutrophication is currently not feasible. A key advantage of this method is that the added H2O2 degrades to water and oxygen within a few days, and thus leaves no longterm chemical traces in the environment.
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