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Toxic Water: Blue-Green Algae in Warwick Pond

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

WARWICK, RI —  Blue-green algae , also called cyanobacteria, is back for the summer, now reported at Warwick Pond, and state authorities advise people to avoid contact with the water there.

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) are advising people to avoid contact with the pond because Blue-green algae can produce toxins harmful to humans and animals.

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

All recreation, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. People should not ingest water or eat fish from these waters. Owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water.

People should be careful not to ingest water or eat fish from the ponds. All recreation, including fishing, boating, and kayaking, should be avoided. Animals who may ingest pond water are especially at risk from exposure to the algal toxins, so owners should not allow pets to drink or swim in the water. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

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 pond waters and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare provider.

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If you come into contact with the water, rinse your skin with clean water as soon as possible and, when you get home, take a shower and wash your clothes. Similarly, if your pet comes into contact with the water, immediately wash your pet with clean water. Do not let the animal lick 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. People are cautioned that toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.

Blue-green algae blooms may also be affecting other waterbodies in Rhode Island. People are advised to avoid contact with waterbodies that exhibit bright green coloration in the water or at the water surface and/or dense floating algal mats that form on the water’s surface. The water may look like green paint, thick pea soup, or green cottage cheese.

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.

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