Bird Watching

When in Doubt, Stay Away: Rising Temperatures Create Potential for Toxins in Water | News

As summer approaches, and more communities and recreation areas around the state begin to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is reminding people who head outdoors to be on the lookout for cyanobacterial blooms that can produce toxins in Oregon’s lakes, rivers and reservoirs.

Cyanobacteria are beneficial bacteria found worldwide in all fresh waters. Under the right conditions—when the weather, sunlight, water temperature, nutrients, and water chemistry are ideal—cyanobacteria can bloom in any body of water. Many blooms are harmless, but some can produce cyanotoxins that make people and animals sick.

Exposure to cyanotoxins occurs when water is swallowed while swimming or when water droplets are inhaled during high-speed activities like waterskiing or wakeboarding. Symptoms of cyanotoxin exposure include diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, numbness, dizziness, and fainting. Although cyanotoxins are not absorbed through the skin, people with sensitive skin may develop a red, raised rash when wading, playing, or swimming in or around a flower.

Children and pets are particularly susceptible to disease due to their size and activity level. Dogs can become seriously ill and even die minutes to hours after being exposed to cyanotoxins by drinking water, licking their wet fur, or eating the toxins from floating mats or dried crust along the shore. Like dogs, livestock and wildlife can become ill and die after drinking from bodies of water, water troughs or other sources of drinking water affected by blooms and potential toxins.

Only a fraction of Oregon’s freshwater bodies are monitored for cyanotoxins. Due to ongoing personnel and safety issues related to COVID-19, the OHA expects less frequent than normal visual monitoring and sampling of affected water bodies. For this reason, it will be all the more important as more recreation areas open up and the summer recreation season begins so that people can visually observe any body of water in which they choose to recreate before diving.

The OHA recommends that everyone stay away from water that looks foamy, frothy, thick (like pea-green or blue-green paint), or in which red-brown mats are present. . If you’re not sure, follow the OHA’s advice: “When in doubt, stay away.”

The open recreation areas where the flowers are identified can still be enjoyed for activities such as camping, hiking, biking, picnics, and bird watching. By being aware of the signs of efflorescence and taking appropriate precautions to reduce or eliminate your exposure, you can also engage in water activities such as canoeing, fishing, and boating, as long as speeds do not create spray. excessive water and fish are cleaned appropriately.

To find out if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific body of water, visit the Harmful Algae Bloom website or call the Oregon Division of Public Health’s toll-free information line at 877-290- 6767.

For health information or to report illness, contact the OHA at 971-673-0440. For more campground or lake information, call the local management agency.