Even seemingly benign algae blooms can impair the visual enjoyment of a lake, cause unpleasant odors, and may interfere with the safe use of the lake for diving and swimming by obscuring potential dangers that may lie beneath the water’s surface. Blooms may also foul water supply intakes or render the water not suitable for uses by cottagers, industry, municipalities or others.
Under certain conditions some algae may produce toxins that, with direct contact, can cause skin and eye irritation. Although people do not usually drink water contaminated with blue-green algae because of the scum and accompanying smell (fresh blooms smell like newly mown grass and older blooms smell like rotting garbage), you can accidentally swallow contaminated water while swimming, water skiing or taking part in other recreational activities. If this occurs, you may experience headaches, fever, sore throat, dizziness, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. For more information on potential health effects of algae blooms, please visit the NB Department of Health’s Q&A’s. .
Excessive levels of the toxin can also be extremely harmful to fish and wildlife. As algae die, they decompose using up the dissolved oxygen in the lake. This reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen available to fish and other aquatic life.