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The Health Dangers of Algal Blooms

By Lana Bandoim

Summer may seem like the perfect time to explore local lakes and ponds, but algal blooms can quickly ruin the fun. Harmful algal blooms occur when algae grow in the water and produce toxins. Algal blooms can vary in color but most are green, red or brown. Before you jump into a lake this summer, consider the health dangers of algal blooms.

What Are Algal Blooms?

When algae grow in water, they can produce dangerous toxins that create an algal bloom. These blooms create health dangers for adults, kids and pets. Algal blooms tend to be green, red or brown. You can see them on the surface of the water, and they can cover the entire area or a portion of it. Some people call them scum or mats on the water. They can also smell bad and make standing near the water unpleasant.  

Why Are Algal Blooms Dangerous?

There are several problems with algal blooms that parents and children need to understand. It is important to remember that the health effects can vary from moderate to severe based on the type of toxins released by the algae. For example, some algae produce toxins that affect the nerves and muscles. They can lead to paralysis, seizures, vomiting, confusion, liver damage or death.  

How to Avoid Algal Blooms

People come in contact with algal blooms by swimming in the water or drinking it. Some people breathe in tiny droplets of water containing the algae and toxins while playing in the water. It is also possible to eat fish that has been exposed to toxins from the algal blooms. Keep in mind that boiling the water or cooking the fish cannot kill these toxins.

Try to avoid algal blooms and do not let kids or pets play in them. Be careful while fishing because you do not want to catch contaminated fish.

Symptoms to Watch

If you are exposed to algal blooms, the symptoms can vary based on the type of algae in the water. However, the most common symptoms include eye, skin and throat irritation. When the toxins are ingested, the symptoms include stomach pain, headaches, confusion, vomiting and liver damage. If you suspect that someone has been exposed to toxins, seek immediate medical help.

Pay attention to the water this summer and avoid swimming in areas that have clear signs of algal blooms. Make sure kids and pets stay away from the algae.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Cottonwood Heights, Utah.

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