Biological Hazard in USA on August 05 2016 03:40 AM (UTC).
Southwest District Health has issued a public health advisory for Lake Lowell after toxic algae has turned up in the water. Blue-green algae occurs naturally in bodies of water. However, with the perfect conditions, algae blooms can occur, which can release toxins. "When temperature, and stagnant water, and the nutrient balance in the water body shift it makes it favorable to these blue-green algae and that's when we see blooms form," Josh Schultz with the Department of Environmental Quality said. Traces of those toxins have been found in Lake Lowell. Blooms can vary in appearance, sometimes looking like mats, foam, or surface scum. A public health advisory has been issued for the entire lake; however, the Department of Environmental Quality says it's really confined to one area. "We've noticed a bloom near parking area one and it does seem to be confined to just that area," Schultz said. The algae can spread to different areas of the lake because of winds or boats. Blue-green algae is actually a bacteria, and when the blooms occur it can cause certain health risks. "Typical symptoms are skin rashes, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting and then some of the worst cases can affect internal organs," Schultz said. The toxins can also pose health risks to pets and livestock. The DEQ says if fish are exposed to the toxin, only consume the filet portion, remove the fat, organs, and skin, and then wash your hands while handling. Health officials say if you do get it on your skin, you want to wash it off with clean water immediately. Officials also say boiling nor disinfecting removes blue-green algae toxins from the water. "I would advise people to be a little bit cautious and just make sure when they go down there, check out the water body, and make sure the water looks like it's safe to get in," Schultz said. The DEQ is doing weekly tests on the lake, and Schultz says they have seen it start to subside. He expects it could be gone within the next couple of weeks.