I may be wrong here, but we usually don't have to worry about the threat of Blue-Green Algae on bodies of water until a little further into the summer. I know Illinois and Wisconsin had a big problem with this grossness last summer, and now it may be putting a damper on our boating and swimming fun even earlier this year.

This algae is nasty, it's dangerous, and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is already warning residents about it's developing presence on many lakes and rivers in our state.

A recent press release from the IEPA says;

As temperatures begin to rise, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Public Health are reminding residents to be cautious if they are planning activities on Illinois lakes and rivers, now and throughout the summer. Water conditions are ideal for blue-green algae growth. Blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) are microscopic organisms that naturally occur in lakes and streams. Rapid growth of algae is referred to as a "bloom." While most blue-green algae are harmless, some can produce toxic chemicals that cause sickness or other health effects in people and pets, depending on the amount and type of exposure.

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. Individuals are most often exposed to algal toxins while swimming or participating in other recreational activities in and on the water. The most common routes of exposure are direct skin contact, accidental ingestion of contaminated water, or accidental inhalation of water droplets in the air. Symptoms of exposure to algal toxins include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, or wheezing. More severe symptoms may result from longer or greater amounts of exposure.

If you see any water that "looks like spilled, green or blue-green paint; has surface scums, mats, or films, is discolored, has green-colored streaks; or has greenish globs suspended in the water below the surface"  AVOID IT, and DO NOT let your pet swim in it either.

If you fear you are experiencing symptoms of algae toxins, call your doctor or the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.

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