Toxic algae poses risk in some Massachusetts ponds – News – MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA – Colorado News

Toxic algae poses risk in some Massachusetts ponds – News – MetroWest Daily News, Framingham, MA – Colorado News

THE ISSUE: Cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, has become a common sight on many bodies of water.

THE IMPACT: Exposure to high concentrations of cyanobacteria can cause symptoms ranging from skin rashes to gastrointestinal illness.

That blue-green scum that sometimes covers rivers and ponds in the summer months isn’t just ugly, it can be dangerous.

Fueled by nitrogen and phosphorous runoff from lawn fertilizer and sewage systems, cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, appears in many Massachusetts water bodies in the summer, when the temperatures rise and the days are longest.

“It has become a common issue during the summer and early fall,” said Mike Celona, chief of the water toxics unit at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. “There are approximately 20 cyanobacteria blooms at recreational water bodies in Massachusetts each year.”

As of Aug. 9, the DPH issued cyanobacteria advisories for nine bodies of water, cautioning the public that exposure to the toxic algae can cause conditions ranging from skin irritation to gastrointestinal illness. The advisories discourage swimming and other activities, such as kayaking, that could cause a person’s skin to come in contact with the water, even through incidental splashing.

“Our advice is to limit all water contact,” Celona said. “Health concerns from harmful algae blooms and their toxins vary depending on the type of exposure and the amounts and types of toxin present. Direct contact with algae can cause skin and eye irritation, and ingesting or inhaling small amounts are most likely to cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Animals,…

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