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HEALTH and DEM Lift Public Health Advisories Related to Cyanobacteria Blooms

The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announce that recreational contact advisories related to cyanobacteria blooms on bodies of water in the state are now lifted.

Four bodies of water were affected by cyanobacteria blooms during this past summer. They were J.L. Curran Reservoir (in Cranston), Melville Pond (in Portsmouth), Mashapaug Pond (in Providence), and Roger Williams Park Ponds (in Providence).

HEALTH and DEM had advised people to avoid recreational activities, such as swimming, boating, and fishing, on and around these bodies of water. Cooler temperatures and shorter day lengths produce conditions generally unfavorable to algae growth.

Although HEALTH and DEM are lifting the advisories that had been placed on these bodies of water, blue-green algae blooms may still be in some freshwater lakes and ponds throughout Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waters that exhibit the following conditions: bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface, and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water's surface. The water may look like green paint or thick pea soup.

Blue-green algae, typically referred to as cyanobacteria, have the potential to form the naturally occurring algal toxins, such as microcystin and anatoxin. These toxins can cause harm to humans and animals. Skin rashes and irritation of the nose, eyes, and/or throat are common side effects that result from skin contact with water containing algal toxins.

If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects may include stomachache, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Young children and pets are more at risk to algal toxins than adults, since they are more likely to drink contaminated water. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage.

People who experience these symptoms and have been drinking from, swimming, or fishing in waters with a suspected cyanobacteria bloom should contact their healthcare provider. People observing pets exhibiting adverse health symptoms after contact with potentially affected waters should contact their veterinarian. People that come into contact with potentially affected waters should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, and wash their clothes. Pets that have come into contact with potential cyanobacteria blooms should be thoroughly rinsed with clean water.

Related links

Department or agency: Department of Health

Online: http://www.health.ri.gov

Release date: 11-12-2013

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