Illinois Officials Warn of Some ‘Toxic' Blue-Green Algae in Lakes, Rivers


Officials issued a warning Tuesday to be wary of some toxic forms of blue-green algae forming in Illinois lakes and rivers this summer.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Public Health asked that residents be cautious this summer of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, growing in some waterways.

According to officials, most blooms, or rapid and expansive growth of the bacteria, are harmless. However, some can produce toxic chemicals in people and pets that cause sickness or other health conditions.

"Sensitive individuals, including young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk to adverse health effects attributable to algal toxins," a release read. "Individuals are most often exposed to algal toxins while swimming or participating in other recreational activities in and on the water."

The most common ways to be contaminated are direct skin exposure, accidental injection of toxic water and inhalation of water droplets, officials explained.

Symptoms of exposure include the following: rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, wheezing. Officials warned that symptoms can worsen with exposure.

Water contaminated with toxic blue-green algae will likely:

  • Look like spilled green or blue paint
  • Has surface scums, mats or films
  • Has a blue or green crust at the shoreline
  • Is discolored, or has green streaks
  • Has greenish globs suspended in the water above the surface

If you feel you have been exposed to toxic chemicals, call Illinois Poison Control at (800) 222-1222.

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