Thunder Bay, Northwestern health units say more blue-green algae blooms detected in area lakes
Public health officials say to use caution and don't consume the water or let pets drink it
Public health officials in Thunder Bay and Kenora, Ont., say blue-green algae has been discovered in two more lakes in the northwest.
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit says a bloom was discovered in Surprise Lake on Sept. 17, while the Northwestern Health Unit reported that a bloom was found in Louise Lake, in the Kenora District's Pellatt Township. Both blooms were reported on Sept. 23.
Public health officials cautioned that people should avoid drinking water where algae blooms are present, as well as not to use it for any household purposes or swim in it. People should also not let their pets go near the water, either.
The algae are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams, but are usually in low numbers. 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 when they are ingested, inhaled or come into contact with skin.
Boiling or treating the water with chlorine doesn't remove any toxins that may be present, public health officials said; additionally people should wait about two weeks after the bloom has disappeared before normally using the water again.
The health units also advised that if people or animals do come in contact with the algae, to wash with soap and water and rinse with clean water.
Public health officials added that algae blooms are rare in northwestern Ontario, but, with rising water temperatures, they may become more common.