Warm Conditions Prompt Warning of Blue-Green Algae Blooms
Posted: 08/31/2012
DES MOINES – Unseasonably warm weather and water temperatures have prompted concerns about microcystin, a product of blue-green algae.

There are currently advisories for total microcystins for the beaches on Big Creek Lake, Green Valley Lake, and Rock Creek Lake.  Blue-green algae can grow quickly and become very abundant in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water that receives a lot of sunlight – conditions that have been prevalent throughout the state this summer.

Because the conditions are conducive to blue-green algae growth, people and pets should not be in contact with water that has a poor appearance.  The appearance can be a pea-green or blue-green color, but also a reddish-brown. It may appear with scum, foam or as a thick mat on the water surface. Blue-green algae can grow quickly and become very abundant in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water that receives a lot of sunlight.

The main risk to humans from microcystin is skin irritations and rashes, but if the water is swallowed or airborne droplets are inhaled during swimming, bathing or showering, symptoms could be worse. Those would include headaches, nausea, abdominal pain, seizures, liver injury and respiratory problems.

Precautions that should be taken to prevent health-related problems due to harmful algal blooms include: