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DEM: Avoid Toxic Roger Williams Park Lake

{CRTEDIT: EPA] Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, produce toxins that are hazardous to humans and animals.
{CRTEDIT: EPA] Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, produce toxins that are hazardous to humans and animals.
[CREDIT: EPA] Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, produce toxins that are hazardous to humans and animals.

PROVIDENCE — The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) warn against contact with Willow Lake in Roger Williams Park due to a blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond.

Growths of the bacteria cause ponds and lakes to look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese. The RIDEM advises people to avoid contact with any bodies of water exhibiting these signs, due to toxins, including microcystins, that can harm humans and animals.

Toxic? What does that mean?

People should also be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the pond. Pets can also be affected by exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from these waters.

 Skin contact with water containing blue-green algae commonly causes irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat. Common health effects associated with ingesting water containing algal toxins include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Rarer health effects include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. Young children and pets are at a particular risk for health effects associated with algal toxins. People who have had contact with Willow Lake and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

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Lookout for more cyanobacteria

It is possible that blue-green algae blooms may be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island, including other ponds in the Roger Williams Park. To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact DEM’s Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 orDEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov If possible, send a photograph to accompany the reported condition.

Rob Borkowski
Author: Rob Borkowski

Rob has worked as reporter and editor for several publications, including The Kent County Daily Times and Coventry Courier, before working for Gatehouse in MA then moving home with Patch Media. Now he's publisher and editor of WarwickPost.com. Contact him at editor@warwickpost.com with tips, press releases, advertising inquiries, and concerns.