Adrian, Michigan February 13, 2022
Wayne State University has sent letters, including test results and a project summary, to participants in the Adrian Water Study, a 2019 project to test home tap water samples in the City of Adrian’s drinking water distribution system for the presence of Microcystis Aeruginosa (harmful algae), a species of cyanobacteria, and two of the algal toxins it can produce, microcystin and anatoxin-a. Microcystin is a hepatoxin and anatoxin-a is a neurotoxin. Samples collected on June 22, 2019, and again on September 14, 2019, from participating homes were analyzed using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology.
According to the letter, 48% of the samples collected on June 22 contained the Microcystis gene, 16% contained the microcystin gene, and none contained the anatoxin-a gene. Of samples collected on September 14, 53% contained the Microcystis gene, 3% contained the microcystin gene, and 3% contained the anatoxin-a gene. The project was not designed to connect algal toxins with harmful algae blooms as only tap water samples were analyzed, and it “did not repudiate or confirm the possibility of water source contamination with cyanotoxins.” “Further evaluation of the water using independent and specialized sources is required to properly address any quality and safety issues”, according to the letter.
Brittney Dulbs, the Adrian resident who helped WSU coordinate sample collection locally, said, “The letter, minus all information that would identify individual participants and their results, has been sent to state and county agencies and to the City of Adrian. Taste and odor problems in Adrian’s drinking water and algae blooms in Lake Adrian have been documented for many decades. Since we aren’t connected with the analysis portion of this project and don’t have any additional information, we can’t comment on the results at this time.”
Pam Taylor, who assisted Brittney, said one concern is the potential for biofilms and colonization of the system over those years, and additional testing would be required to determine whether or not that is a problem. Also, due to the study’s scope, samples were not analyzed for either Planktothrix or Anabaena, two genera of cyanobacteria that can also produce the toxins microcystin and anatoxin-a and taste and odor compounds.
This was an independent project, conducted by Wayne State University. All questions about it should be directed to Andrew James at firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions about Adrian’s drinking water system should be directed to the City of Adrian.