The province has advised Public Health Sudbury & Districts that results from samples taken October 7th from Lake Apsey in Espanola are positive for blue-green algae, a form of bacteria which can produce toxins.
Health agency manager Burgess Hawkins says the bloom is not located near the Espanola water treatment plant intake and the plant also has an effective barrier to all algae, which means the water supply is protected.
He adds because blooms are not anchored, they can move from one location to another through wind and water action and new blooms can also form, so all residents should look for them in their area.
He says the blooms have an unsightly pea soup appearance and foul smell and can produce toxins, so residents should avoid using or drinking the water.
Hawkins stresses people who use the surface water for their private drinking water supply should consider an alternate, protected source of water.
The highest concentrations of toxins are usually found in blooms and scum on the shoreline. These dense accumulations pose the greatest potential risks to people and pets. The algae toxins can irritate a person’s skin and, if ingested, cause diarrhea and vomiting. If a person ingests high levels of toxin, they could suffer liver and nervous system damage.
Avoid using the water for drinking, bathing, or showering, and do not allow children, pets, or livestock to drink or swim in the bloom.
Be aware that shallow drinking water intake pipes can pump in blue-green algae.
Do not boil the water or treat it with a disinfectant, like bleach, because it breaks open the algae cells, which releases more toxins into the water.
Do not rely on water jug filtration systems as they may not protect against the toxins.
Avoid cooking with water because food may absorb toxins from the water during cooking.
Follow the Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks Guide to Eating Ontario Fish. Exercise caution with respect to eating fish caught in water where blue-green algal blooms occur. Residents should not eat the liver, kidneys, and other organs of fish.
For more information on blue-green algae, visit phsd.ca or call 705.522.9200, ext. 398 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).
Photo from unsplash.com