Water Sanitation Health

Toxic cyanobacteria in water: A guide to their public health consequences, monitoring and management

Edited by Ingrid Chorus and Jamie Bartram

Toxic cyanobacteria in water

The threat posed by toxins from cyanobacteria to water supplies has increased world-wide during the past 30 years. Health problems attributed to the presence of such toxins in drinking water have been reported in a number of countries, including Australia, Brazil, China, England, South Africa and the USA.

This book, which has been prepared by an international group of experts, examines the need to protect drinking water, recreational waters and other water supplies from contamination by toxic cyanobacteria and to control their impact on health. It discusses the nature, diversity and global occurrence of toxic cyanobacteria, their consequences for public health, and methods for the assessment, management, investigation and treatment of contaminated water supplies. Programmes for monitoring the causes and occurrence of cyanobacteria in water and techniques for the analysis of water samples are described.

This book will be an invaluable source of information for environmental health officers and professionals in the fields of water supply, freshwater ecology, public health and health education, as well as for students and consumer groups.

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Rolling revision of the WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality

The book Toxic cyanobacteria in water: a Guide to their public health consequences, monitoring and management is included in the plan of work of the rolling revision of the WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality.


The comprehensive book Toxic Cyanobacteria in Water: A Guide to their Public Health Consequences, Monitoring and Management was developed as part of the rolling revision process based on a recommendation of an expert meeting held in Geneva in 1995 and was published in 1999. The GDWQ FTF meeting (Geneva, 2003) recommended that the book be updated. In addition, at the last meeting of the Working Group on Water and Health (WHO Regional Office for Europe [EURO]), it was noted that a significant number of European countries are facing increasing water stress and are building reservoirs to store water, but these often experience cyanobacterial blooms, and the resulting toxins are a major problem for the European countries, as indicated by EURO.

Expected end-product(s)

Second edition of the supporting document Toxic Cyanobacteria in Water, for publication by 2009 or 2010

Progress to date

The GDWQ WG meeting (Geneva, 2004) approved the workplan and time schedule for the updating of the book. The GDWQ WG meeting (Geneva, 2005) approved the outline of the second edition, with amendments. A detailed writing frame was prepared, and authors were identified. The GDWQ WG meeting (Geneva, 2006) was informed that an authors’ meeting with first drafts was targeted for autumn 2006. The GDWQ WG meeting (Berlin, 2007) was updated on the progress to date and was advised that the document should be ready for review in mid-2008. The GDWQ WG meeting (Singapore, 2008) was advised that the document was not yet ready for review; progress is slow but steady.

Other information that may be of interest

Publishing and ordering information

ISBN 0-419-23930-8
© 1999 WHO
This book is in English only

Published on behalf of UNESCO, WHO and UNEP by E&FN Spon
2-6 Boundary Row, London SE1 8HN, UK.
Tel:+44 (0)1264 343071
Fax:+44 (0)1264 343005
Web site

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