Blue Green Algae Blooms May Contaminate Local Lakes

Written by Communications, June 27, 2019

Learn to Protect Yourself and Your Pets and Report Blooms

Peterborough Public Health is advising local residents to report and protect themselves from blue-green algae which may bloom on area lakes.

To report a blue-green algae bloom, residents are advised to contact the Ministry of the Environment and Conservation and Parks at 1-866-MOETIPS (663-8477).  The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, with the assistance of Peterborough Public Health (PPH), will follow up on blue-green algae blooms reported in lakes in Peterborough County and City area, and around Curve Lake and Hiawatha First Nations.

To date, no reports have been received of the presence or confirmation of blue-green algae this season.

“It can be tricky even for experts to identify blue green algae, so it’s important for residents to familiarize themselves with the different categories on our website should they suspect a bloom in their area,” said Wanda Tonus, Public Health Inspector at PPH. “We want to enjoy our lakes during the warm months, and being aware of blue green algae is another way to protect our families and our pets.”

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.

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 www.peterboroughpublichealth.ca and search “blue green algae.”

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For further information, please contact:

Brittany Cadence, Communications Manager

705-743-1000, ext. 391