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RIDOH and RIDEM Lift Public Health Advisories Related to Cyanobacteria Blooms

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announce today that they are lifting the public health advisories issued earlier this year in response to cyanobacteria blooms on Sisson Pond, St. Mary's Pond, and Lawton Valley Reservoir in Portsmouth; Watson Reservoir in Little Compton; and North and South Easton Ponds and Paradise Pond in Middletown.

These bodies of water are sources of supply to the Newport Water system. For this reason, swimming in these bodies of water is prohibited, as is the bathing of animals in these bodies of water.

Although cooler temperatures and shorter day lengths combine to produce conditions generally unfavorable to algae growth, RIDOH 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 untreated 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 swimming or fishing in waters, or drinking untreated water from a waterbody with a suspected cyanobacteria bloom should contact their healthcare providers. 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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