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Friday, June 17, 2011

Pigeon Lake Blue-Green Algae Alert Does Not Affect Omemee Area: Does This Alert Affect You?

Ontario Ministry Issues Health Alert: Do not Use Water!

Testing performed by the Ministry of the Environment has confirmed that the algae
bloom in the “Back Channel” area of Pigeon Lake is blue-green algae, also known as
cyanobacteria. The “Back Channel” area is on east side of Boyd Island,aka Big Island, in the northern part of Pigeon Lake as shown in the map below:

 Pigeon Lake Waterf Use Alert
‘The area affected on the mainland shore extends from Fire Route 72,in the south, to Teds Lane in the north.’stated a spokesperson from Peterborough Couty Health Unit,adding ‘In the future we hope to have contact numbers for all the people in the area,so we will be able to send them an automatic phone call,but for now, sending out a media alert is the best we can do.’ When asked to comment on any possible health concerns regarding eating fish caught in Pigeon Lake, the source replied that it was a totally separate department would need to deal with those questions.

Keep Pets Out Of Water!

Peterborough County-City Health Unit issued an alert advising residents in the affected area to avoid using water from the lake, and seek alternative sources of water for all purposes, including drinking, cooking, bathing, washing clothes and dishes, and
providing water to pets.
Dogs and other pets should also be kept from entering and
swimming in the water. The advisory does not affect people who use municipal water
systems, or those residents who draw water from drilled wells that are not affected by
lake water.

Dangerous Consequences of Using Water With Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae are naturally-occurring phenomena in fresh water that can produce
toxins when it is dying or disturbed. This can put the health of people and animals at
risk. Drinking water with the toxins may result in headaches, fever, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Bathing or showering in water with blue-green algae can result in skin rashes, swollen lips, eye irritation and redness, ear ache and itchiness, sore throat, hay fever-like symptoms and asthma. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

Do Not Boil Water!

Residents who draw their household water from the Back Channel area of Pigeon Lake
are advised: boiling the water will not solve this problem. Boiling will kill the algae, but in doing so, will release toxins into the water.

Fishing in Pigeon Lake? Catch and Release Advisable

According to the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, ‘Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish’, Microcystins, toxins produced by some species of blue-green algae, can accumulate in fish, particularly in the viscera or organs (liver, kidney, etc.). Levels in fish tissue depend upon a number of factors including the severity and duration of the bloom in the area where the fish is caught. In general, caution should be taken when considering the consumption of fish caught from a water body where major blue-green algal blooms occur. When possible, avoid eating fish and/or fish organs caught from these areas.
Residents in Galway-Cavendish and Harvey Township requiring more information can
contact the Peterborough County-City Health Unit by calling (705) 743-1000.
The advisory is in effect until further notice.
Resources:
Peterborough County Health Unit:Testing Confirms Blue-Green Algae In “Back Channel” Area of Pigeon Lake
Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish -Ministry of the Environment

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