Rise in Algal Blooms Threaten Water Recreation

May 15, 2019

Increasing temperatures have led the Oregon Health Authority to notify citizens about cyanobacterial blooms in lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Exposure to blooms can give people symptoms resembling a stomach flu and can kill smaller animals.

Thick or foamy water may indicate the presence of toxic algal blooms in surface water.
Credit Oregon Health Authority

OHA Public Health Toxicologist, David Ferrer recommends that people stay out of fresh water if it appears foamy, scummy, or thick.

“The toxins cannot be absorbed through the skin, but it’s the amount that you swallow while recreating,” says Ferrer. “The activities that are highest risk are swimming and high-speed water sports, like water-skiing or tubing behind a boat where you’re likely to fall in. Any time water is going over your head.”

Ferrer believes that if climate change models are correct, the environment should expect to see a greater frequency of toxic blooms.

Copyright KLCC, 2019.