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  • 4 August 2014, 14:10

Toxic Tap Water: Toledo Calls State Of Emergency

Hundreds of thousands of people in Toledo, Ohio, have effectively had their running water supply cut off for a third day after high levels of toxins were found.

Mayor D Michael Collins said early on Monday that the latest tests indicated decreased levels of toxins, but the water was not yet safe to drink.

The city's 400,000 residents were initially warned on Saturday after tests at one treatment plant showed two sample readings for microsystin above the standard for consumption.

Officials are trying to determine the cause of the problem, but believe it could be due to algae on Lake Erie.

As well as being told to avoid drinking the water, residents have been urged not to bathe their children in it, make baby formula with it, brush their teeth with it or feed it to their pets.

Toledo officials warned boiling the water would only increase the toxin's concentration.

The toxins can kill animals and sicken humans.

Water distribution centres and store shelves were emptied of bottled water within hours of the warning on Saturday.

Residents waited hours for deliveries of bottled water from across Ohio as Governor John Kasich declared a state of emergency.

Mr Kasich said it was too early to say how long the water advisory would last or what caused toxins to spike suddenly.

Everybody needs to stay cool and calm," Mr Kasich told a news conference. "We're going to learn from this and make improvements."

The governor ordered the state's National Guard to deliver water purification systems, pallets of bottled water and ready-to-eat meals to residents in several counties.

There have been no reports yet of people becoming sick from drinking the water.

Algae blooms during the summer have become more frequent and troublesome around the western end of the lake - the shallowest of the five Great Lakes.

The algae growth is fed by phosphorus, mainly from farm fertiliser runoff and sewage treatment plants, and leaves behind toxins that have contributed to oxygen-deprived dead zones where fish cannot survive.

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