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Avoid, report blue-green algae in bodies of water across state

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality reminds residents that hot weather and accumulated nutrients can lead to blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms in water bodies across the state. Blue-green algae can produce toxins in the water called cyanotoxins.

People who swallow or come into contact with water containing cyanotoxins can become sick with diarrhea and vomiting; or experience numb lips, tingling fingers and toes, dizziness, rashes, hives and skin blisters. Pets and livestock may also suffer adverse health effects, including death. There are no known antidotes for the cyanotoxins produced by blue-green algae. Children and pets are at a higher risk than adults for illness because of their smaller size.

Environmental Quality responds to reported blooms across the state and tests water for toxins. If toxins are at an unsafe level, Environmental Quality issues public advisories and warnings.

Blue-green algae can look like grass clippings floating in the water, clumps/puffballs or green cottage cheese. It can also make the water appear like spilled green paint or green pea soup. To avoid it:

-Respect advisories and warnings.

-Do not swim, water ski, or boat in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of green or blue-green algae on the water, or let pets swim in or drink from affected waters.

-Rinse with fresh water as soon as possible if accidental contact occurs.

-Do not irrigate lawns with pond or lake water that looks scummy or has a foul odor.

Report suspected blue-green algae blooms to Environmental Quality. Because it can take time to receive laboratory test results, people should be cautious and avoid waters that look discolored, scummy or have a foul odor.

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