FREDERICTON (CNB) – New Brunswickers are advised to be aware of the potential health risks posed by algal blooms in lakes and other bodies of water. The Department of Health issued this reminder today.

Algae blooms can occur in waters when the appropriate conditions are present; this usually occurs during the summer months or early fall. While not all algae blooms are problematic, blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, can produce microcystin toxins.

Microcystins may cause skin, eye and throat irritation and may lead to more serious health effects if consumed.

The water cannot be consumed even after boiling as this does not remove the toxins. Fish caught from water where such blooms are present should have all its organs removed and be thoroughly rinsed with potable water before it is cooked and consumed.

The Department of Health encourages the public to be active and enjoy the outdoors, however, since blooms can be unpredictable people need to be cautious. Before entering a body of water, take note of its quality. Where an algae bloom is suspected (paint-like scum and/or blue/green or other discoloured water) avoid swimming, water-skiing or other recreational activities.

Young children and those with skin conditions may be particularly vulnerable. Blue-green algae can be fatal to pets and livestock.

The departments of health and environment are working together to ensure that reported or suspected blooms are evaluated and that advisories are posted where appropriate. If you suspect that an algae bloom may be present in a lake, please report this information to the nearest Department of Environment regional office.

More information about blue-green algae is available online.


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