July 9, 2014 2:55 pm

Beware of toxic blue-green algae in Pigeon Lake

Watch above: Blue-green algae is forming at Pigeon Lake, and health officials are warning people it could poison you and your pets. Kendra Slugoski reports.

EDMONTON – Bad news for those hoping to go for a summer swim in Pigeon Lake: blue-green algae is back. And Alberta Health Services says that means you and your pets should stay out of the water.

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Consuming the algae-infested water can be fatal for animals, according to AHS. People who come into contact with the water can get a rash; those who ingest the water can risk developing heachaches, nausea, vomiting, as well as abdominal cramping.

“You’d be best to avoid contact with water all together,” said Dr. Christopher Sikora, the medical officer of health for the Edmonton Zone.

This is the fourth year in a row health officials have issued the advisory at Pigeon Lake. Part of the problem, they say, is people using lawn fertilizer which runs off into the lake.

Dawn Doell, with the Pigeon Lake Watershed Association, has been going door-to-door trying to spread the message to the nearly 5,000 residents in the area.

“We promote the elimination or just the decreased use of phospherous or nitrogen-based fertilizers,” she says.

“This lake acts like a big bowl so anything that gets put into it can stick around for 100 years.”

The Pigeon Lake Watershed Association has a list of lake-safe fertilizers that it recommends.

Four other Alberta lakes are under blue-algae advisories: Coal Lake (73 kilometres southeast of Edmonton), Lake Isle (80 kms west of Edmonton), Baptiste Lake (in northern Alberta), and Muriel Lake (in northeastern Alberta).

People are advised to take the following precautions against blue-green algae:

  • Do not drink water directly from (or allow your pets to) from this lake – boiling the contaminated water won’t remove toxins.
  • Do not swim or wade (or allow your pets to) in this lake.
  • Avoid contact with blue-green algae along the shoreline.
  • Do not feed whole fish or fish trimmings from this lake to your pets.
  • People may wish to limit their own consumption of whole fish and fish trimmings from this lake, as fish may store toxins in their liver.
  • People can safely consume fish fillets from this lake.

The  blue-green algae advisories will remain in effect until further notice. Anyone who suspects health concerns stemming from it, or requires further information, is asked to call Health Link Alberta at 1.866.408.5465 (LINK).

You can learn more about blue-green algae below:

With files from Kendra Slugoski, Global News

© Shaw Media, 2014

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