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Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forum (PA LEEF) Series – Harmful Algal Blooms

March 26, 2024

Harmful algal blooms (HABs) are a major threat to Great Lakes and Pennsylvania waters. They can form quickly and produce harmful toxins that impact the skin, livers, and neurological systems of people, dogs, and other animals. Because of their potential danger, HABs can cause declining recreation and revenue generation in the areas they impact. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), blooms can become dense, blocking sunlight availability to underwater plants, and clogging the gills of fish, shellfish, and other animals which can prevent them from breathing. When the dense blooms die off, the decay process can use up all available oxygen in the water, causing other organisms in the water to suffocate. Decaying blooms can also release methane and hydrogen sulfide further impacting recreation and water quality (CDC, 2024).

It is imperative that we learn about HABs at local, statewide, and regional levels in order to understand their formation, toxin production, environmental impacts, and possible solutions. 

local and regional speakers will come together to discuss the Harmful Algal Bloom issues in Pennsylvania and the Great Lakes Region. The Erie County Department of Health will present about HAB issues in Lake Erie and Erie, PA. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will present about HABs in a statewide scope. Guests from the Great Lakes HABs Collaborative will cover HAB issues throughout the basin, and new, innovative research in the HABs space will be touched upon.

The Pennsylvania Lake Erie Environmental Forums (PA LEEF) are organized by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and Pennsylvania Sea Grant. The forums are open to the public and feature topics like water quality, stormwater, scientific studies and research, policy issues, energy, agriculture, tributary and watershed updates, and larger-scale policies affecting all of the Great Lakes.


  • 1:00 – Welcome to the Forum and Great Lakes Updates
  • 1:20 – Lake Erie Harmful Algal Blooms (Breanna Adams, Erie County Department of Health)
  • 1:40 – Harmful Algal Blooms in Pennsylvania (Erika Arnold, PA Department of Environmental Protection)
  • 2:05 – Great Lakes HABs Collaborative (Connor Roessler, Great Lakes Commission)
  • 2:30 – Hypoxia: the invisible problem (Mark Rowe, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab)

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