As the weather gets warm, Nova Scotians should watch for blue-green algae blooms in lakes and rivers.
People should avoid contact with algae blooms and the water where they occur. Following a recent bloom, people should still be cautious even if the algae is no longer visible.
The algae is also known as pond scum. It has a blueish green, grassy or soupy appearance and sometimes gives off a distinct odour. In the right conditions, it can naturally form on any lake or river. While many types of blue-green algae are harmless, some produce toxins that pose health risks to people and animals.
If water containing the algae is swallowed, symptoms may include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Direct contact with skin from swimming may cause skin, nose, throat or eye irritations. Consult a physician if you develop symptoms after coming into contact with a bloom.
People and pets should not swim in, drink from, or eat fish from water sources where blue-green algae is present. Water contaminated by the algae should not be used to prepare or cook food. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
For more information, visit the Department of Environment website at www.novascotia.ca/nse/water/docs/BlueGreenAlgae.pdf , or contact your local Department of Environment office.
Source: Media Release