State: Look out for harmful algae blooms on Ohio River

State: Look out for harmful algae blooms on Ohio River

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The Ohio Environmental Protection agency has urged Ohio residents to be alert over Labor Day weekend if they plan to engage in activities on the Ohio River.

The State of Ohio has been working with the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission, Kentucky and West Virginia to respond to reports of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) in the water.

Recent river and weather conditions are favorable for the HAB formations, particularly near shore and in protected areas, according to reports.

This is not a continuous bloom, nor is it a bloom moving down the River like a spill, stated officials.

Under the right conditions HABs can bloom in water - usually in lakes, ponds and slow-moving rivers - when there is sunlight, warm temperatures and nutrients in the water.

Avoid coming in contact with water that:

  • Looks like spilled paint
  • Has surface scums, mats or films
  • Is discolored or has colored streaks
  • Has green globs floating below the surface

If you or your pet comes in contact with blue-green algae, rinse off with clean, fresh water as soon as possible.

If you plant to eat the fish you catch, remove the guts and liver and rinse fillets in tap water before eating.

Other activities near the water such as camping, biking and hiking are safe.

If you are picnicking, wash your hands before eating if you have had contact with river water or shore debris.

According to state representatives, HABs can produce toxic chemicals which may make people and pets sick depending upon the amount and type of exposure. This is especially true for the very young, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

Types of exposure include swallowing HABs-contaminated water, skin contact and inhaling aerosolized water droplets. HABs toxins can cause a rash, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and more severe symptoms at higher levels of exposure.

Seek immediate medical attention if you become sick after recreating on the river and think you may have had contact with HABs. Contact your veterinarian if your pet gets sick, said officials.

ORSANCO will continue to coordinate a monitoring plan with Kentucky, West Virginia and Ohio.

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