Health department reopens Owasco Yacht Club beach following stricter toxin testing

Harmful algal blooms could close beaches for a bit longer this year after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency drafted more conservative guidelines for health departments concerning toxin levels.

Eileen O’Connor, director of the Cayuga County Environmental Health Division, said the health department used to be able to use test strips that could detect whether levels of microcystin, a toxin released from harmful algal blooms, had reached a threshold to close public bathing beaches. In previous years the closure level was at 10 parts per billion. The EPA, however, has recommended closing beaches at a detection level of 4 parts per billion, a level too low for the test strips to detect.

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