Thunder Bay

Hawkeye Lake blue-green algae not toxic, Thunder Bay health unit says

Public health officials in Thunder Bay, Ont., say analysis on a bloom of blue-green algae found in Hawkeye Lake north of the city showed that the strain is not toxic.

Public health officials continue to urge caution, as algae blooms can vary in toxicity over time

A bloom of blue-green algae as shown by researchers near Edmonton. Thunder Bay public health officials say a bloom in an area lake is not a toxic strain. (Submitted by: University of Alberta)

Public health officials in Thunder Bay, Ont., say analysis on a bloom of blue-green algae found in Hawkeye Lake north of the city showed that the strain is not toxic.

Still, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit is advising people to be cautious whenever a bloom is present, as they can be dangerous to people and pets, according to a written release issued Wednesday.

The result of the testing on the algae bloom from the provincial Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks "reflects the water conditions when the lake was originally sampled on August 21, 2019," the health unit's statement said.

"Please continue to exercise caution as blue-green algae blooms may recur and toxin production may vary for the rest of the season."

The algae, also called Cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams, usually in low numbers, the health unit said. However, they can quickly increase in number in warm, shallow surface water that receives a lot of sunlight.

When that happens, they form blooms that turn the water turquoise or into the colour of pea soup. Some of those blooms can produce toxins that are dangerous to people and animals.

Public health officials added that people and pets shouldn't drink the water where algae blooms are present. As well, people shouldn't use affected water for household purposes and should avoid swimming in it.

Pet owners should also keep their pets away from the water as animals have died from drinking contaminated water, the health unit said, adding that if contact with the algae does occur, wash with soap and water and rinse with clean water to remove it.

now