Update on SEPA’s cyanobacterial (blue-green algae) analysis service, 2022

12 April 2022

Article: 56/1410

In 2021, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) were providing a limited service to local authorities, councils and others for ad-hoc analyses of water samples and identification and quantification of potential cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), responding to nearly 180 reports and dealing with over 70 lab analyses. SEPA now advise they are able to resume analysis capability across their labs.

SEPA continue to follow current Scottish Government guidance on assessment and minimisation of risks to public health from cyanobacteria, following guidance provided by the World Health Organization (WHO). SEPA work in partnership with other organisations to provide advice and assistance in analysis of ad-hoc samples from suspected cyanobacterial blooms in recreational waters.

SEPA have issued the following advice:

  • Any potential algal bloom can be recorded using the smartphone app, Bloomin’ Algae, which can be downloaded via Google Play or the app store. The app can be used to send photos and locations of possible blooms, and comments can be received on reported blooms after an account has been registered and authorised. The app also:
    • provides rapid notifications
    • speeds up public and animal health alerts and warnings
    • provides verification of harmful algal blooms to SEPA, local authorities and other agencies
  • The SEPA Ecology Assessment Unit can be contacted via email about potential algal and cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), and require the name of the loch, national grid reference (NGR), date of incident and name of the local authority. SEPA can also be contacted directly, and the Pollution Hotline (0800 807060) can be used to report environmental events.
  • SEPA should be contacted in order to make appropriate arrangements in advance where potential samples and subsequent analyses may be justified and warranted. When agreed in advance with SEPA, samples should be transported to the relevant SEPA lab, although small samples may also be sent by post.
  • Background information and details on sampling procedures are documented in Annex E of the guidance.