The province on Ontario has released some tips for dealing with blue-green algal blooms in Lake Erie.
In a news release sent this week, provincial officials say blue-green algae are microscopic, plant-like organisms that occur naturally in ponds, rivers, lakes and streams.
Certain types of blue-green algae can be toxic and bad for your health and the health of pets and other animals, causing itchy, irritated eyes and skin, or flu-like symptoms.
If swallowed in large quantities, these algae may also cause more serious health concerns, such as liver damage.
Blue-green algal blooms can be caused by agricultural and stormwater runoff as well as leaching from septic systems.
Ontarians can do the following to help prevent, spot and respond to blue-green algal blooms:
1. Avoid the use of household fertilizers containing phosphorus, use phosphate-free household detergents and cleaning products and maintain natural shorelines on waterfront properties.
2. Do not touch blue-green algal blooms.
3. Do not swim in or drink water that you think might contain blue-green algae. Newer blooms may smell like grass, while older ones can smell like rotting garbage.
4. Report blue-green algal blooms to Ontario’s Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060.
5. Contact your local public health unit about water advisories in your area.
Ontario’s municipal drinking water systems provide drinking water that is amongst the safest in North America.
Municipal drinking water is tested for a common blue-green algae toxin called microcystin whenever blue-green algae may be a concern.
Monitoring activities to date continue to show that this toxin has not been detected in treated drinking water in Ontario.
Ontario has a 12-point plan to reduce the occurrence of harmful algal blooms, including working with domestic and international partners on targets and actions to reduce loadings of nutrients to the Great Lakes.