The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are lifting most of the blue-green algae advisories that have been in place for bodies of water in Rhode Island this fall.
Advisories are lifted for the following waterbodies:
• North Providence: Wenscott Reservoir • Providence (Roger Williams Park): Polo Lake, Pleasure Lake, Elm Lake, Willow Lake, and Edgewood Lake • Cranston: Blackamore Pond, Spectacle Pond, and J.L. Curran Reservoir
These improvements were expected due to seasonal cooling and declining sunlight. They signal a great reduction in risk. However, there is no guarantee that toxins are absent, or that a warm spell might not trigger a bloom during the winter or spring. Advisories remain in place for Melville Ponds in Portsmouth, Roosevelt Lake in Roger Williams Park in Providence, Mashapaug Pond in Providence, and Almy Pond in Newport.
Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can produce toxins that harm humans and animals. 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.
Contact with water containing blue-green algae toxins 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.
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.
To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM's Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.