Environmental and animal groups warn of blue-green algae dangers


Water in the St. Lucie River is covered by a blue-green algae bloom plaguing the river as it accumulates at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam in Port Saint Lucie, Florida, on July 5, 2016. – During the July 4th holiday weekend some beaches in Martin County, Florida were closed because of the algea infestation. The toxicity of the algea can cause rashes or respiratory problems. But also its unsexy appearance of rotten porridge and ammonia smell frightens tourists. (Photo by RHONA WISE / AFP) / TO GO WITH AFP STORY by Leila MACOR, US-environment-pollution-health-tourism (Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP via Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS — As the weather gets warmer, health and animal experts are warning people about the dangers of blue-green algae blooms.

These algae blooms typically happen in Indiana from late spring to early fall. They may produce toxins that can be harmful to people, pets and livestock.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says blue-green algae in Indiana waters is caused by a group of photosynthetic bacteria. They are most often blue-green in color, but can also be blue, green, reddish-purple or brown.

The DNR says when environmental conditions are just right, they can multiply quickly. Most species rise to the surface where they form floating mats but some stay suspended under the water’s surface.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) says blooms may appear for only a few hours or remain unchanged for weeks, depending on water and wind conditions. Sunlight, warm weather, low turbulence, and nutrient sources such as phosphorus and nitrogen may promote significant algal growth.

The Indiana Board of Animal Health says dogs are particularly susceptible to blue-green algae poisoning because the scum can attach to their coats and be swallowed during self-cleaning.

Every year, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management samples water from state parks and state recreation area beaches for blue-green algae toxins. People should visit the IDEM’s website before heading to lakes or recreational areas.

Public health officials say people should avoiding contact with waters visibly impacted by algae, and showering or bathing with warm, soapy water after recreating in reservoirs, lakes, rivers, and streams. For more information on blue-green algae, visit algae.in.gov

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