Mayor Jasiel F. Correia II in consultation with the Health Department and Department of Community Utilities issued a health advisory back in July of last year due to reports by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) that its testing on July 25th at South Watuppa Pond showed elevated levels of Blue-Green Algae (Cyanobacteria species). The advisory is still in effect and the Watuppa Water Board is expected to discuss the issue at their July 23rd meeting.
According to the advisory still in place, people should not swim, wade, ingest or come in contact with the water, scum, foam or algae. This advisory also applies to their pets.
Algae blooms are caused by certain environmental conditions such as warm weather, strong sunlight, and excess nutrients in the water such as fertilizer run-offs and agricultural uses of land adjacent to a water body.
Blue-green algae, when present in blooms or large sheets has the potential of producing toxins that can be found within the algae cells or in the surrounding water when they die-off. Health concerns from algae blooms depend upon the type and duration of exposure as well as the presence of the types of toxins. Contact with blue-green algae can cause skin and eye irritation. Swallowing the water from a bloom can cause upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. When ingested in large quantities, other more severe illness can develop. In some instances inhaling a spray with blue green algae can cause asthma-like symptoms. Animals, because they can lick the algae off their fur, can experience more serious symptoms and may require veterinary care. Anyone experiencing symptoms after contact should seek medical attention.
Pets and small children are more susceptible to the effects of any toxins that could be released by the algae. If your pet has been near an algae bloom, they should be rinsed off and anyone coming in contact with the water should rinse off or shower. Boiling water does not get rid of any toxins that may be present; the water should not be used for any purposes in which it is to be ingested or come in contact with people or animals.