Current Algae Advisories
Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are primitive life forms closely related to bacteria. Blue-green algae can be found in water bodies worldwide, including those throughout Washington State.
Blue-green algae contain photosynthetic pigments similar to those found in algae and plants. They may appear as single cells or groups of cells. Colonies may clump together on the water's surface to form a surface scum, which can cause water quality problems in lakes.
Following are steps to take to limit your risk of exposure to cyanobacteria:
Not all blooms are toxic but some blue green algae produce nerve (neurotoxins), liver (hepatotoxins) as well as toxins that affect the skin and gastrointestinal tract.
Toxic cyanobacterial blooms have been increasing in Washington lakes over the last 25 years. Environmental factors leading to toxin production are not well understood however it is more likely that toxins are in harmful concentrations during blooms. Signs that a bloom is toxic may be large numbers of dead fish, waterfowl, or other animals within or around a body of water. Animals found dead may have algae around the mouth or on the feet and legs, indicating possible ingestion of and contact with a toxic bloom.
Only laboratory tests can determine whether a blue-green algae bloom is toxic.
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