Public health advisory issued for Buckeye Lake due to algae toxins

BUCKEYE LAKE, OH (WCMH) — An algae bloom has caused state officials to place warnings at two Buckeye Lake beaches, Crystal Beach and Fairfield Beach. This type of algae has the potential to cause serious health risks even death if not treated properly.

About a dozen people were in and out of the water at Crystal Beach Tuesday afternoon, even though a sign clearly states “Danger: Avoid all contact with the water.”

“If there’s a big red sign out there that’s advising you not to use the beach and avoid contact with the water you should take that seriously,” said Licking County Health Commissioner Joe Ebel.

Ebel says the blue-green algae is essentially a bacteria that can cause nausea, dizziness, and numbness. The most common symptom is a skin rash and these should not be taken lightly.

“The toxins can produce a variety of symptoms all the way up to causing death some produce skin rashes others cause liver damage or neurological brain damage,” said Ebel.

If you have any of these signs Ebel adds to see your doctor.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources received calls saying the water was looking green on Buckeye Lake. The water was tested on June 14th. Samples showed high levels of algae.

Michael W. Collins is a lifetime boater and fisherman who notices the green water on Tuesday.

“I was out here yesterday on the boat, a lot of dead fish a lot of things within the dredging, I worry for the kids and the dogs because I got grandkids and dogs myself and I wouldn’t let mine come out here,” said Collins.

The water will now be tested weekly until the high levels go away. ODNR says the biggest concern is for kids and pets.

Hannah Arey lives across the lake and isn’t surprised to see these signs posted.

“There always are though honestly always some sort of warning, I just want to go kayaking as long as you don’t drink like a gallon of it, you’ll be fine,” said Arey.

Collins, who grew up on the water, feels differently.

“No, what I heard on the news today I think I’m going to stay away for a while, go to a swimming pool, go to a pond a place that’s not toxic and can hurt you if you swallow water,” said Collins.

ODNR says they don’t actually close the beaches so it’s very important to pay attention to these signs. An advisory for recreational use is given a number 6, an elevated advisory is a 20, the high levels recently tested came in at 25.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources released this statement:

ODNR has partnered with the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio EPA to establish an advisory protocol and website to assist visitors with information about water quality alerts that may be present across the state.

After indication of a potential algae bloom is observed, the water is tested for the possible existence of elevated algae toxin levels. Buckeye Lake beaches did test positive for elevated levels, so in accordance with the established state protocol, signs were posted advising visitors of the current water conditions.

Anyone that has questions regarding water quality at any of Ohio’s public beaches can visit the Ohio Beach Guard website to learn about current alerts for recreational water activities.

Here is another website with further information about toxic algae blooms. 

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