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Blue-green algae confirmed in Lulu Lake

Health unit urges those using water from the lake near Kenora to use caution after toxins confirmed.
Blue green algae
Blue-green algae formed in a lake. (via Shutterstock)

KENORA – Toxins from a blue-green algae bloom have been confirmed in Lulu Lake near Kenora, the Northwest Health Unit reported Monday.

The lake was sampled and tested by the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks.

The health unit urged anyone using water from the lake to be cautious. Exposure to significant amounts of the toxins can pose health risks to people and animals.

Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms naturally present in lakes and streams, usually in low numbers. However, they can rapidly increase in warm, shallow water, forming “blooms” that discolour water and can produce floating scum on the surface. Blooms can make the water appear a bluish green resembling pea soup.

People and pets should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has scum on the surface, the health unit advised. If contact does occur, wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.

Water not visibly affected by a blue-green algae bloom rarely causes health effects for swimming, bathing, or showering, the health unit noted, but some people may be sensitive.

A warming trend for water in the region will increase the risk of blue-green algae, the Northwestern Health Unit warned.

Health authorities ask anyone spotting a suspected bloom to report it to the Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060. Those with questions can contact the Northwestern Health Unit at 1-800-830-5978.

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