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Hawkeye Lake blue-green algae bloom sample shows no toxins

The Thunder Bay District Health Unit advises residents to remain cautious
Hawkeye Lake cover shot
Hawkeye Lake is about 45 km north of Thunder Bay (Alana Pickrell/TBTV)

THUNDER BAY — Ontario's environment ministry says a lab analysis of the blue-green algae bloom discovered last week at Hawkeye Lake found no toxins present in the sample it collected.

The ministry reported its findings today to the Thunder Bay District Health Unit.

A news release issued late on Wednesday afternoon by TBDHU states, "Note that this result reflects the water conditions when the lake was originally sampled on Aug. 21. Please continue to exercise caution as blue-green algae blooms may recur and toxin production may vary for the rest of the season."

A ministry spokesperson told the sample was taken between the public landing and the cliffs in the southwest arm of Hawkeye Lake.

She described the bloom as "free-floating and dispersed throughout the water column."

Blue-green algae are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams.

They are usually present in low numbers, but can rapidly increase in warm, shallow surface water, resulting in blooms that have the appearance of green pea soup or turquoise paint.

A Lakehead University researcher has also said that human activity can lead to more nutrients entering the water, fostering the growth of organisms including blue-green algae.

Some blooms produce toxins that pose a risk to human and animal health when consumed, come into contact with skin or are inhaled.

Until now, blue-green algae has been uncommon in the Thunder Bay district.

TBDHU cautions that with rising water temperatures due to climate change, they may become more common.

"Property owners who use surface water for drinking or household purposes like dishwashing or showering should consider the risks of doing so," the health unit said in the release.

TBDHU has established a new web page to provide updates of current blue-green algae notifications.

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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