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Water users urged to avoid algal blooms

Waterway wih algal blooms on the surface.

URBANA – As the temperatures warm and people head out to local waterways, you are warned to avoid algal blooms.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Illinois Department of Public Health say you, your family, and your pets should avoid touching, swimming, inhaling, or drinking water that looks like the following:

  • looks like spilled, green or blue-green paint;
  • has surface scums, mats, or films;
  • has a blue or green crust at the shoreline;
  • is discolored or has green-colored streaks; or
  • has greenish globs suspended in the water below the surface.

According to IEPA and IDPH, some algal blooms, also known as cyanobacteria, produce toxic chemicals that can cause sickness or other health effects in exposed people and pets.

Symptoms of exposure to algal toxins include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, or wheezing. If you’ve been exposed and are showing those symptoms, you’re urged to contact your health provider or call the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.

The agencies also say you should not allow your pet to drink from water with algal blooms or lick their fur after swimming in the infected water. If the pets show sickness symptoms, contact a veterinarian immediately.

Algal bloom photo from Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
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Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick

Reginald Hardwick is the News & Public Affairs Director for the Illinois Newsroom. He started at WILL in October of 2019 after serving as News Director for WKAR in East Lansing, Michigan. Previously, he was a news producer and manager at the NBC station in Dallas, where he won 7 Emmy awards. Born in Vietnam, Reginald is a graduate of the University of Northern Colorado. Email: rh14@illinois.edu Twitter: @RNewsWILL

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