July 26, 2017 – The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change has confirmed the presence of blue green algae in the Port Perry area of Lake Scugog in front of Palmer Park. The Township of Scugog has posted the area of concern with support from the Durham region Health Department.
The public is cautioned not to use the water containing blue-green algae for any uses.
The toxins released by blue-green algae when it is dying or disturbed can pose health risks for anyone using the water, including pets. Drinking the water may result in headaches, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Bathing or showering in the water can result in skin rashes, swollen lips, eye irritation and redness, ear ache and itchiness, sore throat, hay fever-like symptoms and asthma. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
Concerns should be directed to the Durham Health Department’s Environmental Helpline: 1- 905 723 3818.
Stay up-to-date on blue-green algae outbreaks
It is difficult to predict when and where a bloom will occur and for how long the toxin associated with the algae will be present, as environmental conditions continually change.
The local health unit will release a water-use warning when the presence of blue-green algae is confirmed by the Ministry of the Environment. Reports and updates are posted in the news sections of the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit, Peterborough County-City Health Unit and Durham Region Health Department.
- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
- Peterborough County-City Health Unit
- Durham Region Health Department
What to do if blue-green algae has been confirmed
Do not use water containing blue-green algae for any uses. The toxins released by blue-green algae when it is dying or disturbed can pose health risks for anyone using the water, including pets.
Drinking the water may result in headaches, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Bathing or showering in the water can result in skin rashes, swollen lips, eye irritation and redness, ear ache and itchiness, sore throat, hay fever-like symptoms and asthma. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
Boiling water does not help in these situations, as the process just kills the algae resulting in the release of more toxins into the water.
For areas where an advisory has been lifted, you should not use the water if you see a large, dense algae bloom.
What to do if you suspect blue-green algae
If you suspect a blue-green algae bloom, assume toxins are present and call the Ministry of the Environment Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060.
Reduce the likelihood of health risks by avoiding activities that increase exposure to these toxins during algae blooms; call the local Health Unit for information and follow their advice.
If you are unsure about the safety of water for drinking during an algae bloom, then use alternative water sources such as bottled, carted or tanked water.
Impacts on wildlife
Blue-green algae have been known to cause death in many different types of animals. Animals drink from the shorelines where algae tend to collect; therefore, they ingest large amounts of any toxins released. There have also been deaths reported in water-dwelling animals such as otters and waterfowl. Cattle are often highly impacted by the algae; however, there are not as many deaths due to the size of the animal.
Animals with smaller body masses are more affected by the toxins and tend to be the ones reported dead.
Fish can intake toxins from the algae as well, so when eating any fish caught in or near a water body affected by the algae, remove all the internal organs where any toxins would collect.
Causes of blue-green algae outbreaks
Blue-green algae occurs naturally during hot periods of weather in fresh water lakes and reservoirs with shallow, slow-moving, or still water that is rich in nutrients such as phosphorous and nitrogen. The algae thrive in areas high in nutrients, which can be elevated in lakes and streams due to human activities.
Some of the human sources of these nutrients include storm water runoff, fertilized lawns around the lake, shoreline erosion, industrial effluent, agricultural runoff, faulty septic systems, and sewage treatment plants.
Algae blooms, which can often give the water a pea soup appearance, can last up to three weeks and be pushed around the lake by the wind and currents.
For more information regarding the presence or health impacts of blue-green algae contact the Health Units below.
City of Kawartha Lakes
Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit
Peterborough County (includes Galway-Cavendish and Harvey)
Peterborough County-City Health Unit
Durham Region (includes Scugog)
Durham Region Health Department