A close up image of an algae bloom in Shuswap Lake near Ashby Point taken in April 2020. (Interior Health photo)

Shuswap Lake algae bloom being monitored, not considered harmful

Dangerous toxins not found in June 30 water quality test

An algae bloom detected in a popular part of Shuswap Lake is not believed to be a risk to people, pets or livestock.

The bloom was spotted in the Canoe and Salmon Arm Bay areas in recent weeks and authorities are monitoring it.

According to the Shuswap Watershed Council it is not considered harmful at this time.

Although some types of algae, such as the blue-green variety, can produce harmful toxins, the council has stated water quality testing done on June 30 did not show significant levels of toxins. The council added that if water quality is compromised, it is Interior Health’s responsibility to post a notice about it which would then be shared by other organizations.

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According to a HealthLink BC document, blue-green algae blooms are natural and found in all kinds of bodies of water but in some cases human activities like agriculture and poorly-functioning septic systems can make blooms more likely. The algae, also known as cyanobacteria, can be harmful to people, pets or livestock that are exposed when they drink or swim in the affected water. Boiling water does not remove the cyanobacteria toxins and special care should be taken to ensure babies are not exposed.

Symptoms of exposure include skin rashes and irritation. According to HealthLink BC, those exposed to contaminated water should rinse themselves with clean water as soon as possible even if symptoms don’t present themselves. Those with symptoms should seek medical attention.

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jim.elliot@saobserver.net

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