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Health Advisory: Indian Lake Closed

For Immediate Release: 8/31/2018 5:26 pm

The City of Worcester Division of Public Health and the Department of Inspectional Services have issued a public health advisory due to laboratory results of high levels of cyanobacteria (blue-green) algae in Indian Lake. The lake has been ordered closed until additional laboratory tests show otherwise.

Individuals and their pets are encouraged to avoid coming in contact with the lake until further notice. The City will be working with environmental health specialists to monitor water quality and determine the length of the closure.

Cyanobacteria are microscopic and naturally occurring in all waterbodies with some species growing in waterbody sediments, while other cyanobacteria can move within the water. Growth of these naturally-occurring algae is aided by certain environmental conditions, such as warm weather, sunlight and excess nutrients in the water. Excess levels of nutrients can come from human related sources. Phosphorous and nitrogen—found in lawn fertilizers, storm water runoff, wild animal waste, and agricultural activities, are key nutrients that aid blue-green algae growth.

All recreational lakes and ponds in Worcester are monitored for cyanobacteria. The City will continue to monitor all bodies of water for any potential problems.

Health concerns from harmful algae blooms and their toxins vary depending on the type of exposure and the amount of toxin present. The following recommendations are being offered to avoid algae exposure until further notice:

  • Do not swim in the lake

  • Do not allow pets in the water

  • Fishing is prohibited

  • Do not swallow water

  • Rinse skin off immediately after contact

Health Risks:

  • Contact with these algae can cause skin and eye irritation

  • Ingesting small amounts can cause gastrointestinal symptoms while ingesting large amounts may cause liver or neurological damage

  • Inhaling water spray with algae in it can cause asthma-like symptoms

  • Small children and pets are more susceptible to the effects of toxins than adults

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