Blue-green algae blooms in Pigeon Lake lead to health warning

Blue-green algae has now appeared in Pigeon Lake Alberta.

Health officiials in the province are advising people to take precautions after a cyanobacterial bloom was found in some areas of the popular central Alberta lake.

Adults and children who swim in lakes affected by the blue-green algae could develop itchy, irritated eyes and skin.

If water is swallowed in small quantities, symptoms could include: headaches, fever, diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting.

While swallowing large quantities of water affected by the blue-green algae could lead to more serious health effects, such as liver damage, according to the health unit.

During prolonged hot weather, algae can become abundant, discoloring water and forming scums, particularly in warm, shallow areas.

The algae growth is fed by phosphorus mainly from farm fertilizer runoff and sewage treatment plants, leaving behind toxins that have contributed to oxygen-deprived dead zones where fish can’t survive. The toxins can kill animals and sicken humans.

Temperatures are expected to be above 30 C for the first three days of the week, providing more fuel to the bloom.

Individuals should not drink untreated surface water.

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