Tip of the Week: Beware of Toxic Algae Blooms this Summer

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), algae blooms are not only disgusting and smelly – the toxic microcystins they can produce also pose serious health risks. Swimming in lakes contaminated with toxic microcystins can cause vomiting, headaches and rashes. Long-term exposure has been linked to cancer, liver failure and sperm damage. Pet owners should be especially cautious since pets may ingest contaminated water while swimming.

It is not possible to know if an algal bloom is harmful just by looking at it. Additionally, toxins can be present even when an algal bloom is not visible.

Protect yourself and your pets from harmful algal blooms (HABs):

  • Avoid entering or playing in bodies of water that:
    • smell bad
    • look discolored
    • have foam, scum, or algal mats on the surface
    • contain or are near dead fish or other dead animals (for example, do not enter a body of water if dead fish have washed up on its shore or beach)
  • Follow local or state guidance if you are notified that your tap water contains algal toxins. Boiling water does not remove algal toxins and can increase the amount of toxin in the water by concentrating it. Be aware of advisories and health risks related to consuming contaminated fish and shellfish.

TO HELP PREVENT ALGAE BLOOMS, MINIMIZE APPLICATIONS OF FERTILIZERS IN YOUR YARD.

Toxic algal blooms occur when chemical pollution from farms and other sources runs off into neighboring bodies of water. While algal blooms can happen naturally, the recent spike is indisputably linked to farm pollution. When fertilizer and animal manure runoff into lakes, streams and bays, fertilizer chemicals like nitrogen and phosphorus can spur the unchecked growth of cyanobacteria.

Billions of pounds of fertilizers and manure are applied to farm fields every year. The fields must be carefully managed and protected to keep these chemicals from washing off fields into ponds, lakes and rivers. Right now, we rely on farmers to voluntarily take steps to stem pollution, but far too many aren’t doing what’s needed. The long-term solution to the toxic algal bloom problem is ensuring that all farming operations meet basic standards of care for water, and stop fertilizer from running off fields.

TELL THE EPA: PROTECT OUR WATER FROM TOXIC ALGAL BLOOMS

Enter your e-mail address below to see how you can help.
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https://www.cdc.gov/habs/prevention-control.html

www.ewg.org/childrenshealth/22055/headed-lake-summer-how-protect-your-kids-toxic-algal-blooms#.W0ATnNJKjic