Harmful algae blooms found on Seneca Lake

SLPWA reports that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has confirmed Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB) on Seneca Lake. It is along the northeast shore near Kime Beach southeast of Geneva in Seneca County. Scott Kishbaugh of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) warns: “Lake residents, visitors and pets should avoid contact with any surface scums or heavily discolored water, and they should seek medical assistance and contact the local health department if they experience any symptoms from blue green algae exposure (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, skin or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties.” This is the first confirmed case of HABs on Seneca Lake. According to the DEC, algae blooms most frequently occur in nutrient-rich waters, particularly during hot, calm weather. “The appearance of a bloom confirms that the condition of Seneca Lake is deteriorating,” said Mary Anne Kowalski, SLPWA president. “It is a warning that the problem of nutrients in the Lake must be addressed.” The sample was submitted through the SLPWA “HABs Hotline,” created to assist Seneca Lake residents and visitors with concerns about harmful algae blooms. Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are of special concern because of their potential impacts on drinking, and recreational waters. Blue-green algae can form “blooms” that discolor the water or produce floating rafts or scums on the surface of the water. These can cause health risks to people and animals when they are exposed to them. According to the DEC: The results from both samples submitted from Kime Beach Road (Seneca County) confirm the presence of a blue green algae bloom, based on blue green chlorophyll a levels of 10,400 and 5600 ug/l (compared to the DEC bloom criteria of 25-30 ug/l) and a microscopic analysis indicating dominance by Anabaena and Microcystis. Toxin testing is pending. It is not expected that these blooms are extensively found throughout the lake, but it is not known if they are limited only to the northeastern shoreline. So it would be advisable to make lake residents aware of the potential for a blue green algae (BGA) bloom in other locations.All are encouraged to follow the advice on the DEC web page (http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/77118.html) or at http://senecalake.org/projects/harmful-algae-blooms-habs/ Seneca Lake residents and visitors who suspect a blue-green algae bloom or that they or their pets have been in contact with a blue-green algae bloom are encouraged to contact either SLPWA or the DEC. Contact the SLPWA HABS response volunteers through the SLPWA website at Link to HABs Page: http://senecalake.org/projects/harmful-algae-blooms-habs/ or at senecahabs@senecalake.org. The form to submit photos and information to SLPWA directly: http://senecalake.org/projects/form-habs/ Contact DEC directly at: HABsInfo@dec.ny.gov or fill out and submit the Suspicious Algae Bloom Report Form (PDF, 787 KB) More on Harmful Algae Blooms from the DEC: According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC): “Most algae are harmless and are an important part of the food web. Algae are naturally present in slow moving streams, lakes, marine waters and ponds in low numbers. Certain types can become abundant and form blooms under the right conditions. Some algae can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. These are collectively called harmful algal blooms (HABs).” Because it is hard to tell a harmful algae bloom from other algae blooms, we recommend avoiding contact with any floating rafts, scums, and discolored water. When blooms are formed, the risk of toxin contamination of surface waters increases especially for some species of blue-green algae with the ability to produce toxins and other noxious chemicals. These are known as Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). “Because of their behavior, dogs are much more susceptible than humans to cyanobacterial poisoning. When toxins are present, dogs can be exposed to toxins by drinking the water, by eating washed up mats or scum of toxic cyanobacteria and by having skin contact with water. Dogs are often attracted to algal scum odors. After leaving the water, dogs can also be poisoned by grooming their fur and paws.” The health impacts of blue-green algae, according to the New York State Health Department: “Some blue-green algae produce toxins that could pose a health risk to people and animals when they are exposed to them in large enough quantities. Health effects could occur when surface scums or water containing high levels of blue-green algal toxins are swallowed, through contact with the skin or when airborne droplets containing toxins are inhaled while swimming, bathing or showering. Consuming water containing high levels of blue-green algal toxins has been associated with effects on the liver and on the nervous system in laboratory animals, pets, livestock and people. Livestock and pet deaths have occurred when animals consumed very large amounts of accumulated algal scum from along shorelines. Direct contact or breathing airborne droplets containing high levels of blue-green algal toxins during swimming or showering can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat and inflammation in the respiratory tract.” ____________________________________________________________________________________ About Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association: The 33-year old Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (www.senecalake.org) is dedicated to “enhancing and preserving the quality of Seneca Lake”. It received a 2013 U.S. EPA Environmental Quality Award for an outstanding commitment to protecting and enhancing environmental quality and public health. The Environmental Quality Award is the highest recognition presented to the public by EPA.

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