Beware of toxic blue-green algae in Boston’s waterways

WARNINGS have been issued about the potential hazard of green algae in the rivers and waterways.

The Environment Agency (EA) is raising awareness of the toxic blue-green algae in rivers, lakes and ponds across Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire.

The EA have said the ‘ongoing drought and weather conditions’ may lead to an increased chance of the algae blooming.

“So far, there has only been one confirmed incident of blue-green algae in Moulton, Northamptonshire,” said Chris Extence, environment monitoring team leader. “However, because of the potential risks associated with blooms, we are asking people to be vigilant and to keep pets and children away from water they suspect may contain the algae.”

Blue-green algae produces toxins which can harm - or even kill - farm animals, pets, wild animals and fish and cause skin-rashes, eye irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and muscle and joint pain in people.

The algae occurs naturally in rivers, ponds, estuaries and the sea. It is usually suspended in the water or attached to rocks or other material.

Blooms can look like paint, jelly or form small clumps and may be blue-green, grey-green, greenish-brown or reddish-brown in colour.

There are a wide range of blue-green algae and different species can only be identified using a microscope.

Mr Extence said: “Not all blue-green algae blooms are toxic but you can’t tell by just looking at them, so it’s best to assume they are and to take suitable precautions.

He added: “Water-users, particularly children, farmers and pet-owners, should treat all blue-green algal blooms and scums with caution.”

If you spot the algae call the EA’s incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.