Warning to beware of blue-green algae on Angus waterways

Blooms of blue-green algae start to appear at this time of year.Blooms of blue-green algae start to appear at this time of year.
Blooms of blue-green algae start to appear at this time of year.
As the weather warms up, Angus residents are being warned to be on the look-out for blooms of potentially hazardous blue-green algae, which can appear on the county’s waterways at this time of year.

Blue-green algae are tiny organisms which develop naturally in lochs, ponds, reservoirs, rivers and in the sea. They are a common seasonal occurrence and waters which have been affected by agricultural, domestic or industrial discharges are most at risk of developing the algae.

The algae can multiply during the summer months and discolour the water which then appears green, blue-green or greenish brown and, occasionally, they clump together to form a scum on the surface of the water. At the shoreline, algal crusts may appear brown to almost black in colour.

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People and animals can be affected as a result of direct contact with affected water and NHS Tayside is advising the public, especially those involved in water sports, anglers and dog owners, to be alert to the blooms as temperatures rise.

Dr Emily Stevenson, Consultant in Public Health Medicine, said: “Canoeists, wind surfers and swimmers who come into contact with the algal scum or who accidentally swallow affected water can suffer from complaints such as skin rashes, eye irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, or pains in muscles and joints. These symptoms are usually mild, but in some cases, can be severe.

“The risk to small animals like dogs is significant over the summer months as they tend to drink more water in the heat and may eat shoreline algal crusts. Dog owners should keep an eye on their pets, especially if they come into contact with water which could be affected.

“The public should be reassured that public water supplies are always treated to prevent any harmful effects to health due to blue-green algae.”

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Where monitoring reveals high levels of algal bloom, warning notices will be posted. Anyone who finds a loch, pond or river which they suspect is affected and which is not displaying a warning sign, should contact their local environmental health service.