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Public officials urge caution amid 'peak season' of harmful algal blooms

Algae blooming in a cove on Lake Cascade, as photographed June, 21 2022 by Friends of Lake Cascade.
Friends of Lake Cascade on Facebook
Algae blooming in a cove on Lake Cascade, as photographed June 21, 2022 by Friends of Lake Cascade.

Microscopic organisms called cyanobacteria are naturally abundant in bodies of water. Yet under specific conditions, and especially during the summer, these bacteria release toxins that can harm both humans and pets.

Swallowing water containing these cyanobacteria algal blooms can lead to stomach pain and nausea and skin and eye irritation if direct contact is made. Pets and livestock are particularly vulnerable to these harmful effects.

Local experts recommend looking out for any green or blue-green foam or surface scum in lakes or ponds and being careful because algal blooms can take a variety of appearances ranging from pea soup to grass clippings.

The Department of Environmental Quality posts updated water quality sampling data online and provides the results to public health officials to determine the need for a health advisory.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare recommends checking their Recreational Water Health Advisories Map before visiting or entering a body of water.

You can report a suspected algal bloom to the Department of Environmental Quality through their online form, sending an email to algae@deq.idaho.gov, or by calling (866) 671-5385.

Hi! I’m Sofia Blenkinsop, a sophomore at Boise State thrilled to work with Boise State Public Radio. After co-founding a podcast club in high school and writing and editing for my school newspaper, I’m excited to gain newsroom experience with the wonderful folks here at BSPR.

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