Toxic algae season in full bloom, officials say

The slime is back. Blue-green algae, a bacterial menace plaguing Madison lakes for years, have developed again this summer, with the algae capable of turning toxic, even deadly…

Only one beach at Warner Park on Lake Mendota is closed Tuesday because of blue-green algae, but the problem can and has closed other beaches on area lakes.

Beach conditions can be found online.

The algae is cyanobacteria, a natural substance in lakes, streams and ponds. Usually the algae is not a problem, until it grows. And grows. And grows.

“They only become a problem for us when they grow enough to produce large scummy mats on the surface of lakes and rivers,” Public Health Madison and Dane County said in a news release on Tuesday.

The algae blooms typically form during hot, rainy weather. Nutrients are carried to the lakes in heavy rain, and the heat warms the water to prompt the algae growth.

The blooms are green to blue-green in color, but can also be reddish-purple or brown, sometimes looking like paint.

“The only benefit to its disgusting appearance and smell is that it tends to keep people away,” the release said.

When the algae is in the water, keep out, and keep children and pets out as well.

The toxins can cause a variety of ills from sore throats to rashes, and worse harmful effects such as liver and nervous system problems.

There also is no quick chemical fix to the algae.

“If we use herbicides or algaecides, we may succeed in killing the bloom, but as the bacteria die, they will release their toxins into the water and thus create a potentially bigger problem,” the release said.

Blue-green algae blooms and possible algae-related illness can be reported to the health department, 266-4821.

“If you believe you’ve been exposed, contact your doctor right away,” the release said.

 

Bill Novak, Madison.com

View original article at: Toxic algae season in full bloom, officials say

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