News release

Summer Temperatures May Cause Algae Blooms

Nova Scotians should be mindful of blue-green algae blooms that may appear in rivers and lakes across the province during the summer months.

Also known as pond scum, blue-green algae can be identified because of its blueish green, grassy or soupy appearance on the water's surface, and it may also produce a distinct odour. Although many forms of blue-green algae are harmless, some produce toxins which may pose a health risk for humans and animals.

People should not swim in, drink from, or eat fish from water sources where the algae is present. Water contaminated with algae should not be used to prepare or cook food, and boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.

"It's important to remember that algae blooms can occur naturally in the right conditions, and can appear in any lake or river across the province," said Dr. Richard Gould, medical officer of health. "The risk to health is fairly low, but if you develop symptoms that persist for a few days, you should consult a physician."

If water containing algae is swallowed, symptoms may include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Direct contact to skin from swimming may cause skin, nose, throat or eye irritations.

Nova Scotians who suspect an algae bloom can call and report it to a local Department of Environment office.

For more information, visit the Departments of Environment and Health and Wellness websites at www.gov.ns.ca/nse/water/docs/BlueGreenAlgae.pdf and www.gov.ns.ca/hpp/environmental/ .

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Nova Scotians should be mindful of blue-green algae blooms this summer that may appear on lakes and rivers across the province.

A naturally occurring phenomenon, it is also known as pond scum and can be identified by its blueish green, grassy or soupy appearance on the water's surface. It may also have a distinct odour.

Medical officer of health Dr. Richard Gould says the risk to health is fairly low, but if you develop symptoms that persist for a few days, consult a physician.

If swallowed, symptoms may include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Direct contact to skin may cause skin, nose, throat and eye irritation.

People should not swim in, drink from, or eat fish from water sources where algae is present. Contaminated water should not be given to animals and boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.

Nova Scotians who suspect an algae bloom can call and report it to their local Department of Environment office.

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Media Contacts:

Becky Atkinson
Department of Environment 902-424-6427 E:mail:
Tony Kiritsis
Health and Wellness 902-424-0585 E-mail: