Harmful algal blooms have been increasing over the past several decades, leading to the contamination of water used for drinking and swimming. Because infants and children consume more water relative to their body weight than adults and because of their play activities, pediatricians should be alert to potential hepatotoxic, neurotoxic and dermatotoxic effects when blooms occur in ponds and lakes near their communities.

Cyanotoxins are produced when the cells of cyanobacteria (i.e., blue-green algae) break. Release of the toxins occurs at cell death, either naturally or as a result of aquatic herbicide use and drinking water treatment processes. Cyanotoxins can potentially be present in surface water and in treated drinking water.

There are many cyanotoxins; the most commonly detected cyanotoxin, microcystin, is found worldwide and has been reported in most of the U.S. Blooms tend to occur in late summer and early fall in temperate zones and when excess nitrogen...

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