SMITHFIELD, RI — The Rhode Island Department of Health and DEM warns against contact, fishing, swimming in or recreation on Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield as a harmful cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae) bloom occurs.
All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People and pets should not ingest water or eat fish from these waters. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice, the agencies report.
Cyanobacteria blooms. Right… What are Cyanobacteria Blooms?
Cyanobacteria naturally occurs in fresh water lakes and ponds, but can grow, or bloom, much faster when fertilizer or sewage contribute nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) from fertilizer runoff or septic tank overflows, according to the CDC. Warm water also encourages the blooms.
Blue-green algae produce toxins, including microcystins, that can harm people and animals. Last August, bright green water and dense floating algal mats on the water surfaces, causing ponds and lakes to look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese, closed many Rhode Island water bodies to recreation.
That may be repeating itself, DEM warns. On June 27, Willow Lake in Roger Williams Park was closed to recreation due to a cyanobacteria bloom in the pond.
To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, call DEM’s Office of Water Resources at 401-222-4700 or [email protected] and if possible, send a photograph of the reported algae bloom.
Cyanobacteria: What’s the big deal?
Contact with water containing cyanobacteria 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 water containing the cyanobacteria and experience these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
If you come into contact with the water:
- Rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible
- When you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes.
- If your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water.
- Do not allow your pet lick algae off its fur.
- Call a veterinarian if your animal shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, including loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a day or so after being in contact with water.
- Toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.
Additional reading from 2012 in The Atlantic: Blue-Green Algae: Iridescent but Deadly
This is a test