BEMUS POINT, N.Y. (WIVB) – Blue-green algae has forced six beaches on Chautauqua Lake to close.
The beaches are Heinz, Children’s, College Pier, University, Lakewood Village and Bemus Point.
In large enough quantities, blue-green algae toxin pose a health risk to people and animals. The toxins can be swallowed, absorbed through the skin, or inhaled and have had negative effects on the liver and nervous systems of laboratory animals, pets, livestock and people.
Direct contact with blue green algae can cause skin, eye, nose, and throat irritation, as well as inflammation of the respiratory tract.
Follow these tips from the NYS DEC on what to do if you see or come in contact with blue-green algae:
People, pets and livestock should avoid contact with water that is discolored or has scums on the surface. Colors can include shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red. If contact does occur, wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.
Never drink untreated surface water, whether or not algae blooms are present. Untreated surface water may contain other bacteria, parasites or viruses, as well as algal toxins, that all could cause illness if consumed.
People not on public water supplies should not drink surface water, even if it is treated, during an algal bloom because in-home treatments such as boiling or disinfecting water with chlorine or ultraviolet (UV) or water filtration units do not protect people from blue-green algal toxins.
If washing dishes in untreated surface water is unavoidable, rinsing with bottled water may reduce possible residues. While we don’t know if water containing low levels of blue-green algal toxins could leave residues on dishes, taking this precaution may help reduce possible exposures.
Stop using the water and seek medical attention if needed if symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties occur while in contact with untreated surface waters. However, swimming, bathing or showering with water not visibly affected by a blue-green algae bloom is not expected to cause health effects.