NWHU warns of possible blue-green algae blooms
Tim Brody - Editor
The Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) advised last week of an algae bloom north of Frog Rapids in Abram Lake, near Sioux Lookout.
NWHU stated in a Sept. 27 media release that the bloom is being tested by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks to see if it is blue-green algae. At this time, the results are not known.
Just a few days later, in a Sept. 29 media release, NWHU advised of a report of an algae bloom west of the Boat Bay boat launch on the south shore of Lost Lake near Hudson.
NWHU shared that the bloom will not be sampled by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks at this time.
NWHU is urging people to treat both blooms as though they are blue-green algae and use caution if visiting those areas.
NWHU explained that, “Blue-green algae are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams. They are usually present in low numbers but can rapidly increase in certain conditions to form a large mass or scum, called a bloom. Some blue-green algae produce toxins that can pose a health risk to people and animals when they are exposed to them in large amounts.”
NWHU further advised that, “When blue-green algae blooms are present, it is important to avoid drinking the water, swimming in it, and using it for bathing or other household purposes. Residential water treatment systems may not remove toxins and should not be relied on during a bloom event. Do not boil the water, as this can cause an increase in toxin levels. Municipally treated water supplies can be used normally unless you are notified otherwise.”
NWHU advises that people and pets should avoid contact with water that has been recently impacted by a blue-green algae bloom, is discoloured or has scum on the surface. If contact does occur, NWHU advises to wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.
NWHU recommends waiting at least two weeks after the bloom has disappeared before resuming the normal use of lake waters.
Anyone spotting an algae bloom can report it to the Spills Action Centre at 1-866-MOETIPS
For more information on blue-green algae blooms, NWHU advised that people can follow the links below:
• Information about Blue-Green Algae – Ministry of Environment – https://bit.ly/3a0yWeq
Anyone with questions is advised to contact Northwestern Health Unit at 1-800-830-5978 to speak with a public health inspector.