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HEALTH and DEM Lift Public Health Advisories Related to Cyanobacteria Blooms on All Affected RI Ponds

PROVIDENCE - The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announce that contact with and recreational activities on ponds affected by the public health advisories issued in response to cyanobacteria blooms may now be resumed.

In all, 19 surface water bodies were affected by cyanobacteria blooms during this past summer. They include Mashapaug Pond and Roger Williams Park Ponds in Providence; J.L. Curran Reservoir and Blackamore Pond in Cranston; Melville Ponds, Sisson Pond, and St. Mary's Pond in Portsmouth; Bailey Brook, Easton Pond North and Easton Pond South, Gardiner Pond, and Paradise Pond in Middletown; Almy Pond in Newport; Watson Pond in Little Compton; Scott Pond in Lincoln; and Slack Reservoir in Smithfield and Johnston; Barber Pond in South Kingstown; and Pasquisset Pond in Charlestown. With the exception of Melville Ponds, recreational activity may be restricted on the affected ponds located in Middletown and Portsmouth, as these water bodies are sources to the Newport public water supply system.

Although cooler temperatures and shorter day lengths combine to produce conditions generally unfavorable to algae growth, HEALTH and DEM warn that blue-green algae blooms may still be evident in some freshwater lakes and ponds throughout the state. People are advised to continue 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, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

Blue-green algae, typically referred to as cyanobacteria, have the potential to form the naturally occurring algal toxins known 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.

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