KINGSTON -- Kingston Public Health Officials are warning the public of a possibly harmful blue-green algae bloom located in Anglin Bay, part of the Cataraqui River. 

The algae was confirmed by lab tests and can produce toxins harmful to humans, according to Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health. 

In a news release, the health unit asks that residents avoid the algae if possible to exercise their best judgement when deciding whether or not to use the water. 

Blue-green algae thrives in warm, shallow, undisturbed water that gets a lot of sunlight and its growth can be spurred on by animal and human waste along with fertilizers that contain high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen. 

The toxic substance can cause skin irritation, as well diarrhea and vomiting, and can even cause liver and nervous system damage from exposure to high enough levels.

The blooms look like pea soup, according to the health unit, appearing in different shades of blue, blue-green, yellow, brown, or red. It says fresh blooms smell like a newly mown lawn, while older blooms smell like rotting garbage. 

The health unit asks that residents take the following safety measures if a bloom is spotted:

  • Do not use the water for drinking, food preparation, bathing, or showering.
  • Do not allow children, pets, or livestock to swim in the water or drink the water.
  • If skin contact does occur, wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove the algae. 
  • Do not boil the water. Boiling will not remove the toxins and may release more of the toxin into the water.
  • Do not cook with the water because food may absorb toxins from the water during cooking.
  • Do not rely on water jug filtration systems, as they do not protect against the toxins.
  • Do not treat the water with a disinfectant such as chlorine bleach. This may break open algae cells and release toxins into the water. 
  • Avoid eating fish caught in affected water. 
  • The liver, kidneys, or other organs of fish caught in affected water should not be consumed.

Those seeking more information are asked to get in touch with the health unit directly at 613-549-1232, ext. 1248 or toll free 1-800-267-7875, ext. 1248.