Village maintenance staff on Friday noticed a visual Harmful Algal Bloom at Indian Pines and Red Jacket parks in Penn Yan. Indian Pines and Red Jacket Swim areas are closed until the village is given permission to re-open by the Department of Health.
Harmful algal blooms (HABs) in freshwater (lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams) generally consist of visible patches of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae. Cyanobacteria are naturally present in low numbers in most aquatic (freshwater and/or marine) systems. Under certain conditions, including adequate nutrient (e.g., phosphorus) availability, warm temperatures, and calm winds, cyanobacteria may multiply rapidly and form blooms that are visible on the surface of the affected water body. Several types of cyanobacteria can produce toxins and other harmful compounds that can pose health risks to people and animals through ingestion, skin contact, or inhalation.
DEC has routinely documented the occurrence of HABs in New York State since 2012 and has produced resources to inform the public of the occurrence of HABs and strategies to avoid them. In addition, through data collection, development of lake and river surveillance programs, and research, the DEC is working to identify the primary factors triggering HAB events and facilitate decision-making to minimize the frequency, intensity, and duration of HABs as well as the effects that HABs have on both people and aquatic life which rely on clean water.
Health officials urge you and your pets to avoid any contact with HABS:
- People, pets, and livestock should avoid contact with any floating mats, scums, or discolored water. Colors can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red.
- Never drink, prepare food, cook, or make ice with untreated surface water, whether or not algae blooms are present. In addition to toxins, untreated surface water may contain bacteria, parasites, or viruses that could cause illness if consumed.
- People not on public water supplies should not drink surface water during an algal bloom, even if it is treated, because in-home treatments such as boiling, disinfecting water with chlorine or ultraviolet (UV), and water filtration units do not protect people from HABs toxins.
If contact occurs:
Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae. Stop using water and seek medical attention immediately if symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions, or breathing difficulties occur after drinking or having contact with blooms or untreated surface water.
You should inform your physician and your local health department if you were exposed to an algal bloom, both to help determine the proper course of treatment and to determine if others should also be notified of this potential risk.
People vary in their sensitivity to HABs exposure, in the way some people are more sensitive to poison ivy and other environmental allergens and irritants. Cyanobacteria can release toxins and other harmful compounds that affect people through skin exposure or ingestion. Gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea are possible. Skin or throat irritation, allergic reactions, or asthma-like breathing difficulties are also symptoms of exposure.
Keep your pets safe around HABs – more information on what to do if your pet comes into contact with HABs.