Blue-green algae blooms can create toxins that may be harmful to humans, pets, livestock, wildlife, and fish. There are many types of algae that are harmless to the environment and people around it, but this specific type of algae can affect the nervous system and the liver. Other health effects include rashes, eye irritation, and gastrointestinal problems. In the most severe cases serious illness or death could occur depending on exposure.
Not all blue-green algae produce toxins and there is no way to predict the life cycle of these types of algae. Blue-green algae blooms are often related to a high amount of nutrients from fertilizers, increased goose populations, and increased temperatures.
In terms of treatment, there isn’t really anything that can be done or should be done. Treatments of blue-green algae blooms are not recommended as the death of this algae may be correlated with the release of the toxins. When the toxins are released, this is when it can be harmful to people and other wildlife.
Having a licensed technician maintaining your pond on at least a bi-weekly schedule is highly recommended. They will be able to spot if the algae is forming and be able to take appropriate action. If caught early, treatment can kill off the blue-green algae. Toxins will be released, but they will be in much smaller amounts that will do little to no harm. The best way to avoid ill effects from a blue-green algae bloom is to stay away from the water and do not eat fish from the water that has been affected. Blue-green algae can be present in increasingly high quantities making swimming and boating hazardous. Precautions such as avoiding contact with visible algae and swallowing water while swimming should be taken. Also, be sure to wash with warm water and soap after coming in contact with bodies of water that are untreated. Keep pets and livestock away from untreated water.
Keep in mind that oscillatoria and other blue-green algae only achieve superiority due to the elimination of competition; otherwise, they are subjected to the growth of other strains of algae and submerged weeds. Allowing other desirable algae groups, such as chara or nitella, to persist could aid in prevention of blue-greens. We have noted that in ponds where chara and nitella are managed rather than eliminated, we do not have problems with blue-green algae blooms.
Have any further questions regarding blue-green algae? Ask your Pond Champs technician or give the office a call.