Canterbury DHB’s Community and Public Health unit has lifted its algal bloom health warning issued for Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere.
Recent water testing at Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere has shown the quantity of potentially toxic blue-green algae (planktonic cyanobacteria) in the lake has reduced and concentrations are now below levels that are of concern to public health.
Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Cheryl Brunton says Environment Canterbury’s sampling of Te Waihora/Lake Ellesmere will continue on a monthly basis.
“The public will be informed if testing shows that concentrations have increased and there is a risk to public health again,” Dr Brunton says.
Facts about cyanobacteria:
- The algae occur naturally but can increase rapidly during warmer months.
- Algal blooms are caused by a combination of nutrients in the water (such as nitrogen and phosphorus), and favourable weather conditions (e.g. increased temperature, calm days).
- If the water is cloudy, discoloured, or has small globules suspended in it, avoid all contact.
- Not all cyanobacterial blooms are visible to the naked eye and toxins can persist after the blooms disappear.
- Cyanobacterial concentrations can change quickly with changing environmental conditions (e.g. wind). If a health warning is in place avoid contact with the water.
- If a warning is in place, people and animals should not drink the water from the lake at any time, even boiled water.
- Exposure to an algal bloom can cause skin rashes, nausea, stomach cramps, tingling and numbness around the mouth and fingertips. If you experience any of these symptoms visit your doctor immediately and please let your doctor know if you have had contact with lake water when there is a health warning in place.
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