Toxic cyanobacteria in water: A guide to their public health consequences, monitoring and management
Edited by Ingrid Chorus and Jamie Bartram

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.

Download the full document

Toxic cyanobacteria in water [pdf 5.09Mb]

Donwload individual chapters

Table of contents, foreword and acknowledgements [pdf 2.65Mb]
Chapter 1. Introduction [pdf 53kb]
Chapter 2. Cyanobacteria in the environment [pdf 465kb]
Chapter 3. Cyanobacterial toxins [pdf 352kb]
Chapter 4. Human health aspects [pdf 151kb]
Chapter 5. Safe levels and safe practices [pdf 97kb]
Chapter 6. Situation assessmen, planning and management [pdf 546kb]
Chapter 7. Implementation of management plans [pdf 96kb]
Chapter 8. Preventative measures [pdf 147kb]
Chapter 9. Remedial measures [pdf 143kb]
Chapter 10. Design of monitoring programmes [pdf 81kb]
Chapter 11. Fieldwork: site inspection and sampling [pdf 110kb]
Chapter 12. Determination of cyanobacteria in the laboratory [pdf 123kb]
Chapter 13. Laboratory analysis of cyanotoxins [pdf 198kb]

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 book 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 Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality Final Task Force 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), it was proposed that a meeting be held on the issue of cyanobacteria in drinking-water supplies; 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 end of 2006.

Progress to date

The Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality Working Group meeting (2004) approved the workplan and time schedule for the update of the book. The Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality Working Group meeting (2005) approved the outline of the second edition, with amendments.

Other information that may be of interest

Other volumes in the series "Water Resources Quality"

Guidelines on safe recreational water environments

Occurrence of cyanobacterial toxins (mycrocystins) in surface water of rural Bangladesh: pilot study

Microcystin-LR [pdf 54kb]
in Guidelines for drinking-water quality, Chapter 12: Chemical fact sheets, p 407


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

Order on line from Earthprint

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