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Province says watch out for blue-green algae this summer, rolls-out QR code program

By Caitlin Snow May 22, 2024 | 5:12 PM

Before you take a dip in a lake or pond this summer, the province wants to help you be aware of blue-green algae.

In collaboration with the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, there is a new program slated to roll-out, in order to educate and inform Nova Scotians.

Cameron Deacoff, the Surface Water Quality Specialist with the Department of Environment and Climate Change tells our newsroom, signs with QR codes to scan, will be posted at 25 provincial parks when blue-green algae blooms are reported.

“Beach goers or park goers use their phones to access that code.  It will take them to the blue-green algae website, with educational information.”

Blue-green algae can be toxic

Blue-green algae is a plant-like substance that is naturally occurring, found in lakes and ponds.

It is more likely to grow blooms in warm weather which can create toxins that are harmful.

This can cause symptoms like itchy, irritated eyes and skin, and if swallowed, can be much worse.

Deacoff explains because humans don’t typically swallow affected water, pets are at higher risk of more severe symptoms, especially dogs, with three who recently died.

Solutions

Deacoff says ultimately, we have very little control over blue-green algae forming with weather getting warmer, but there are a few things we can do.

These include avoiding nutrients going into bodies of water by not using fertilizer, removing vegetation from shorelines and preventing erosion.

He says the best course of action, however, is to know how to recognize the blooms, avoid them and report them if you see any-with 71 suspected from last year.

“We are seeing forecasts for higher temperatures this summer, so, if that’s true …and if we also have a relatively dry summer… then we should see probably similar numbers.”

Deacoff says they are strongly encouraging people to plan ahead before going for a swim.