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Health Unit warning of “potentially harmful” algal blooms this summer

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Susan Healey says some dangerous algae might start appearing in local water over the coming weeks.

“As the summer moves along and our local water bodies are now warmer there is a chance that we may start to see some potentially harmful algal blooms starting to develop,” says Healey, the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit’s Communications Coordinator.

“Potentially harmful algal blooms including blue-green algae are a natural seasonal phenomenon that may appear in our lakes, rivers and ponds,” she explains. “Many of these blooms are relatively harmless; however, some species have the potential to produce toxins which may be harmful to people and animals.”

She says those toxins can cause skin irritation, nausea, and even liver problems in high concentrations.

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According to Healey, the only way to confirm if an algae bloom is dangerous or releasing toxins is through a laboratory test, so if you think you see one happening, she recommends being cautious.

“Residents are encouraged to contact the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks Spills Action Center at 1-800-268-6060 to report any new potentially harmful algae blooms,” she says. “If possible take pictures of an active bloom as this may help identify the type of algae.”

If you want to learn more about possibly harmful algal blooms, the Health Unit’s website has more details.

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