Toxic blue-green algae confirmed along western shore of Hamilton Harbour
If you come in contact with algae rinse off with clean water immediately
Hamilton's Public Health Services are warning to residents to avoid any contact with water along the western shore of the city's harbour after blue-green algae was discovered.
The presence of the toxin-producing algae has been confirmed at the Bayfront Park Boat Launch, Pier 4, Harbour West Marina and throughout the marinas on Macassa Bay.
Officials are suggesting the following tips to avoid potential health risks:
- Avoid all contact with water along the western shore of Hamilton Harbour, including while launching boats or putting them back on a trailer.
- If you do come into contact with water, rinse off as soon as possible with clean water. The city says hand-washing facilities can be found at the Bayfront Park Public Washrooms.
- Both people and pets should not swim or wade in the water anywhere the algae is visible.
The algae, also known as cyanobacteria, generates in shallow, warm, slow-moving water, according to a media release from the city. Factors such as temperature fluctuation, high nutrient loads and water mixing create an ideal environment for it to form.
Algae and aquatic vegetation can start to stink as it dies off and begins to decay, which health officials say is expected to happen when cooler weather arrives. That said, local algae blooms have lasted until late November and early December in some cases.
The city says Hamilton's drinking water is not affected by the algae.
That's important, health officials say, because the adverse health effects from the algae are mainly caused by drinking water contaminated with the its toxins.
People who have come into contact with the algae or ingest it somehow may develop a skin irritation, rash, sore throat, red eyes, swollen lips, fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Anyone who has been in the water near the harbour's western shoreline and is experiencing those symptoms is told to contact their health care provider or a walk-in clinic.