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K-State Today

June 30, 2022

Be aware of harmful algal blooms this holiday weekend

Submitted by Abigail Crouse

If you are planning on spending the Fourth of July holiday weekend near a water body, be aware of harmful algal blooms. These blooms are composed of blue-green algae that can sometimes create toxins that harm humans and pets.

The biggest risk to health comes from contact with or ingestion of the toxins produced by the blue-green algae. This can occur during activities that bring an individual into full-body contact with the water or from inhaling spray cast up from the water's surface. Children and pets are most at risk and can become ill after being exposed. Adults with compromised immune systems are also more susceptible to illness from exposure. The most common complaints include vomiting, diarrhea, skin rashes, eye irritation and respiratory symptoms. If you suspect a person has suffered an adverse health event from harmful algal bloom exposure, seek medical treatment immediately, then report to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment by calling 877-427-7317 or emailing KDHE.EpiHotline@ks.gov.

When in doubt, stay out! The greener the water, the more likely it is that it is dominated by blue-green algae. Avoid strong green or dark green water, the presence of observable floating chunks, the presence of surface scum or water with an offensive odor. Look for signage posted warning of the presence of harmful algal blooms.

For more information, visit the K-State's Pollution Prevention Institute harmful algal blooms website