Health advisories that were put in place for several bodies of water earlier this year have been lifted, while others remain in place, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) announced today. Rhode Islanders had been advised to avoid contact and recreational activities on these bodies of water because of blue-green algae blooms. Blooms of blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can produce toxins that are harmful to humans and animals.
The health advisories on the following bodies of water have been lifted:
- Cranston: Blackamore Pond - East Providence: Central Pond, Omega Pond, Ten Mile River, Turner Reservoir - Greenville (Smithfield-Johnston): Slack's Reservoir - North Smithfield: Tarkiln Pond - Providence: Roger Williams Park (Pleasure Lake, Willow Pond, Edgewood Pond) - Warwick: Little Pond
Health advisories remain in place for these waterbodies:
- Little Compton: Watson Reservoir - Middletown: Gardiner Pond - Newport: Almy Pond - Portsmouth: Sisson Pond - Providence: Mashapaug Pond, Roger Williams Park (Japanese Gardens, Roosevelt) - Portsmouth: Melville Ponds - Cranston: Spectacle Pond
Contact with water containing blue-green algae can cause irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Ingestion of water containing blue-green algal toxins can cause stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, due to their size and because they are more likely to drink contaminated water.
The public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup. Toxins may persist in the water after a blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.
People who experience the symptoms associated with blue-green algae exposure and who have been swimming or fishing in water, or drinking untreated water from a waterbody with a confirmed or suspected cyanobacteria bloom, should contact their healthcare providers. People who come into contact with potentially affected waters should rinse their skin and wash their clothes with clean water as soon as possible. People observing pets exhibiting adverse health symptoms after contact with potentially affected waters should contact their veterinarians. Pets who encounter potentially affected waters should not be allowed to lick water off their fur and should be rinsed with clean water as soon as possible. Seasonal cooling and declining daylight are expected to cause blue-green algae to subside.
During the week of December 3rd, RIDEM plans to re-visit waterbodies under continued advisory. If blue-green algae have subsided, a status update will be issued at that time.
To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.