Blue-Green Algae Bloom on Farlain Lake

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) has confirmed a blue-green algae bloom in Farlain Lake. The test samples were taken from the southeast and southwest side of the lake.

SSEA had noted there were conditions for blue-green algae in its report posted on its web site this week and reported that to the MECP and Simcoe County Health Unit. The FLCA was advised on Thursday that the MECP was conducting tests to confirm whether there was a bloom but we had to await those results before notifying our community. We are working with Tiny Township, Simcoe County Health Unit and the SSEA to ensure everyone is informed.

Simcoe County Health Unit and the MECP will continue to monitor the lake and updates will be shared with us as they are made available.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria and Harmful Algal Blooms, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in lakes and streams. They are usually present in low numbers but can rapidly increase in warm, shallow, undisturbed surface water that gets a lot of sun. When this happens, they can form blooms that discolour the water or produce floating scum on the surface of the water. Blooms often make the water look blue-green or olive-green, or like green pea soup or turquoise paint.

What are the potential health effects from drinking or coming in contact with blue-green algae?

Some blue-green algae produce toxins (Government of Canada) that can pose a health risk to people and animals when they are exposed to them in large amounts. Your health may be impacted when surface scum or water containing high levels of blue-green algal toxins are swallowed, come into contact with the skin, or when airborne drops containing toxins are inhaled while swimming, bathing or showering.

Swimming and household contact, such as bathing or showering, with water not visibly affected by a blue-green algae bloom is not expected to cause health effects. However, some individuals can be especially sensitive to even low levels of algal toxins and might experience mild symptoms such as skin, eye or throat irritation or allergic reactions.

What Should You Do?

  • Never drink untreated surface water, whether algae blooms are present or not. Untreated surface water may contain other bacteria, parasites or viruses, as well as algal toxins that could cause illness if consumed.
  • Avoid using water that looks green or blue-green for household use such as showers. In-home treatments such as boiling and disinfecting water with chlorine or UV and water filtration units do not protect from blue-green algal toxins.
  • People and pets should avoid contact with water (eg. swimming)that is discoloured or has scum on the surface. If contact does occur, wash with soap and water or rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove algae.
  • Stop using the water and seek medical attention if symptoms such as skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions or breathing difficulties occur while in contact with untreated surface water. However, swimming, bathing or showering with water not visibly affected by a blue-green algae bloom is not expected to cause health effects.
  • Do not eat fish caught in water where blue-green algae blooms occur.

Please refer to the Simcoe County Health Unit for further information. .