Sudbury health unit warns blue-green algae blooms may be on Ramsey Lake

An investigation is underway to determine if blue-green algae blooms are in Sudbury's Ramsey Lake.
Blue-green algal blooms have an unsightly pea soup appearance and foul smell, and can produce toxins. (Submitted by: University of Alberta)

An investigation is underway to determine if blue-green algae blooms are in Sudbury's Ramsey Lake.

The Sudbury and District Health Unit says the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change is testing water samples to confirm the presence of the algae.

Blue-green algal blooms have an unsightly pea soup appearance and foul smell, and can produce toxins.

The health unit says the blooms may affect several Ramsey Lake beaches, including Main, Amphitheatre, New, Canoe Club and Bell Grove.

Signs advising the public to avoid swimming, drinking the water, and allowing pets into the water have been posted.

The health unit says that if no bloom is present, water can be used for regular recreational activities.

Testing is underway to determine if blooms found on Ramsey Lake are the potentially toxic blue-green algae. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

Drinking water affected?

While the bloom is presently not located near the David Street Water Treatment Plant intake, the health unit states that the plant has an effective barrier to all algae and can reduce the levels of algae toxins.

"This means that the municipal drinking water supply is protected," said Burgess Hawkins, a manager in the health unit's Environmental Health Division. 

Blue-green algal blooms can appear in other parts of affected lakes, the health unit says. Because blooms are not anchored, they can move from one location to another through wind and water action.

As well, new blooms can also form.

According to the health unit, blue-green algae blooms have an unsightly pea soup appearance and foul smell, and can produce toxins.

The highest concentrations of toxins are usually found in blooms and scum on the shoreline, a health unit news release states.

"These dense accumulations pose the greatest potential risks to people and pets. The algae toxins can irritate a person's skin and, if ingested, cause diarrhea and vomiting. If a person ingests high levels of toxin, they could suffer liver and nervous system damage."


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