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Blue-green algae confirmed in Safety Bay

Sample collected at Safety Bay confirmed to contain cyanobacteria by Ministry of Environment
blue-green algae July 2020
An example of the discolouration produced by blue-green algae.

KENORA – The presence of blue-green algae has been confirmed in Lake of the Woods.

Ontario’s Ministry of Environment confirmed the find in a water sample collected at Safety Bay in Kenora, the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) reported late Tuesday afternoon.  

Toxin analysis is still being conducted on the water sample, with results expected within 5 to 10 business days (updates will be posted at the NWHU website).

In the meantime, the health unit urged residents in the area around Safety Bay to avoid using the water, a practice recommended until about two weeks after blue-green algae blooms dissipate.

Some varieties of blue-green algae are harmless, while others can produce toxins dangerous to human and animal health.

The health unit advises residents in the area to refrain from swimming in the water, drinking it, or using it for household purposes. If contact does occur, the health unit recommends washing with soap and rinsing thoroughly with clean water.

Blue-green algae, formally known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms naturally present in lakes streams in low numbers. However, they can rapidly increase in the right conditions, typically involving warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water and significant sunlight exposure.

The resulting blooms can colour water blue-green, often resembling pea soup or turquoise paint, and produce scum on the surface.

Anyone spotting a bloom is asked to report it to the Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060.

For more information, residents can contact the Northwestern Health Unit 1-800-830-5978 to speak with a public health inspector.


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