Controlling zebra mussels and cyanobacteria in New York with rational copper use

Recent advances in copper formulations have proven superior to older methods for reducing cyanobacteria and killing zebra mussels found in New York and surrounding areas.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, New York  Copper-based algaecides have been an important tool for many decades in the management of source water. They are used for the treatment of cyanobacteria and HABS. Copper has recently been proven effective against invasive species. In some cases, copper has been over-used, leading to backlash. Recent advances have led to more efficient formulations of copper. These have superior performance and less environmental impact. Cyanobacteria and invasive zebra mussels have both been found in New York and pose a threat to recreational water activities and municipal water systems.

Zebra mussels are an invasive species that were brought to North America through shipping. These tiny mussels live in large groups similar to coral, clogging intake pipes of municipal water treatment plants and potentially damaging equipment. This can cost municipalities hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.

Cyanobacteria release harmful toxins into the water. They have been responsible for closing water treatment plants due to taste and odor issues. They also cause harmful algal blooms, known as HABs. Harmful algal blooms are an emerging public health issue. Exposure to HAB may cause a range of mild to severe symptoms in both humans and animals.

These problems can be effectively resolved with the rational use of copper. An upcoming seminar will discuss modern copper products and their applications. David Hammond, PhD. will be on hand to give a presentation at the American Water Works Association conference in Saratoga Springs. He will discuss the use of copper at extremely low doses (60 ppb) for killing zebra mussels and controlling cyanobacteria. “Data from real world case studies will be presented, illustrating that a formulation of liquid copper yields superior results, superior pest control, and better cost-effectiveness at lower doses,” says Dr. Hammond.

Products such as EarthTec® and EarthTec® QZ are EPA registered and NSF Certified ANSI 60 for drinking water. These formulations use a cupric ion form of copper that is biologically active in lower doses than copper sulfate or chelated copper. It doesn’t harm non-target organisms.

Find out more about the copper formulation and effectiveness of EarthTec and EarthTecQZ at or These products are manufactured by Earth Science Laboratories Inc.