The Halifax Regional Municipality is recommending that residents not swim in Lake Banook and Lake Micmac after blue-green algae blooms were detected in both bodies of water.
Blue-green algae is naturally occurring in freshwater and can produce toxins that can pose a risk to people and pets.
Last month, three dogs in Fredericton, N.B., died after being exposed to blue-green algae in or near the Saint John River.
As a result of the advisory, the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) has closed Birch Cove Beach to all swimming until further notice.
The HRM is encouraging lake users to take the following precautions:
- Avoid all contact with blue-green algae blooms. If contact occurs, wash with tap water as soon as possible.
- Do not swim or wade (or allow your pets to swim or wade) in any areas where blue-green algae is visible.
- Avoid consuming fish that has come from these lakes.
If people come in contact with blue-green algae or ingest water containing the algae, they may experience skin irritation, rash, sore throat, sore red eyes, swollen lips, nausea and vomiting.
WATCH: Three dogs killed by blue-green algae in Fredericton
The HRM says that they have collected water samples in order to assess the concentration of toxins in the water. Those test results are expected to be available on August 23.
Warnings were first posted last week after algae blooms were spotted in Lake Banook. However, tests did not come back confirming that they were blue-green algae until Tuesday.
According to the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health, blue-green algae can occur in Canada at any time of year, and the microscopic organisms can be found in fresh, brackish or salt water.
However, only a very small proportion of cyanobacteria produce toxins. Between 80 to 100 different compounds have been discovered in these blooms, and all have different levels of toxicity.
The toxins have similar effects on humans and animals, and they’re generally grouped into three classes: those that affect skin; those that affect the liver; and those that affect the nervous system.