Interior Health warns of toxins in seaweed and what to watch out for – Kelowna News

Watch out for toxins in seaweed

Spring is here and warmer weather means algae can start growing in your favorite lake.

According to Interior Health, algae are a natural part of lake aquatic ecosystems and algal blooms can occur throughout the region. Blue-green algae or cyanobacteria can produce several types of toxins that can be toxic to people, pets or livestock.

Cyanobacteria blooms often make water look bad and can also smell bad.

IH says two of the most important ways to reduce the risk are rinsing with clean water after swimming and not consuming lake water. Also follow these additional precautions:

  • If there is a bloom, always be careful. Avoid direct contact with a flower. In case of contact, it is important to rinse your body with clear water.
  • If you see a bloom, recreational activities are discouraged, such as swimming.
  • Consider using an alternate drinking water source if the bloom is found in your drinking water source. Boiling the water will not remove any toxins. Contact your water supplier for more information.
  • Consider providing pets and livestock with an alternate source of drinking water.

You can report an algae bloom online with the Province of British Columbia Algae Monitoring to identify it.

Interior Health does not routinely test algal bloom water for a type of algae or its toxin. Algal blooms can change all the time.

If you experience any of the symptoms listed below and suspect it may be from exposure to cyanobacteria, IH recommends that you consult your healthcare provider.

Symptoms include:

Headache, nausea, fever, sore throat, dizziness, stomach cramps, diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, muscle aches, mouth ulcers, lip blisters, skin rashes, and ear and eye irritation.

Betty K. Park