March 17,

Blue-Green Algae Bloom on Pigeon Lake: Know the Risks and How to Protect Yourself

Screen Shot 10-06-16 at 03.00 PMOctober 6, 2016 – Peterborough Public Health is advising local residents to protect themselves from blue-green algae which have bloomed on area lakes.

Peterborough Public Health with the assistance of the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) have received confirmed reports of the presence  of blue-green algae in Pigeon Lake, Municipality of Trent Lakes (Crowes Line Road).

“Residents should visit the Peterborough Public Health website or call us for information about what to look for before swimming or consuming water if they suspect a bloom in their area,” said Atul Jain, Manager of  Environmental Health Programs at Peterborough Public Health. “Just as we’ve all learned how to avoid poison ivy and sunburns, it’s important to know how to protect ourselves from blue-green algae so everyone can still safely enjoy the outdoors.”

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria, called cyanobacteria that are known for rapidly reproducing and collecting to form large, highly visible blooms throughout the water column, on the surface of water as a scum, or on the lake bottom as a mat.  These blooms are not only unsightly and smelly: some species of cyanobacteria can also release poisons, called cyanobacterial toxins, when the cells that make up the bloom rupture or die.

To report a blue-green algae bloom, residents are advised to contact MOECC Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060.

If blooms are visible:

  • Do not use the water for drinking, food preparation, bathing, or showering.
  • Do not allow children, pets, or livestock to swim in the water or drink the water.
  • If skin contact does occur, wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove the algae.
  • Residents should not boil the water. Boiling will not remove the toxins and may release more of the toxin into the water.
  • Residents should avoid cooking with the water because food may absorb toxins from the water during cooking.
  •  Home treatment systems for water may not remove toxins and may become clogged, thereby failing to remove the risk.
  • Do not treat the water with a disinfectant such as chlorine bleach.  This action may break open algal cells and release toxins into the water.

The risk to humans is primarily from drinking water that has been contaminated with toxins from a dense algae bloom.  Fortunately, there have been no human deaths attributed to drinking water containing cyanobacterial toxins, but the toxins may cause headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or diarrhea. Long-term consumption of water containing high levels of cyanobacterial toxins may cause neurological or liver problems.  If allowed, farm animals and pets may consume large quantities of heavily contaminated water, resulting in sickness or death.

Some individuals are sensitive to blue-green algae, and may develop a mild skin rash or eye irritation even if there is no toxin produced by the bloom.  Some individuals will have no reaction.

For more information on blue-green algae, and precautions to be taken before swimming in or consuming water where there has been an algae bloom, go to, click on “My Home & Environment” and visit the webpage dedicated to blue-green algae.


For further information, please contact:

Atul Jain
Manager, Environmental Health Programs
705-743-1000 x259




This entry was posted in News, News Archive, What's New. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.