The Rhode Island Department of Health has issued a warning for people to avoid contact with the Melville Pond because of blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) in the pond. This type of algae could produce toxins that harm animals and humans.
People are advised not to drink water or eat fish from the pond. Pets too can be affected by exposure to these toxins so they should not be allowed to drink the water or swim around in the pond. The advisory will remain valid until further notice. The local drinking water supply is not at risk, as Melville Pond is not used for drinking water.
Some of the side effects that result from contact with the toxic algae in the water are irritation of the eyes, nose, skin and throat. If water is ingested, negative effects on health include stomach ache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Pets and young children are the most exposed categories because they are likely to drink contaminated water.
Other, rarer effects on the health are dizziness, headache, liver damage, fever or nervous damage. People who have been swimming in or had contact with Melville Pond and exhibit these symptoms should immediately seek medical attention.
People who come into contact with toxic water should rinse the skin with clean water as soon as possible, wash their clothes and take a bath. If a pet comes into contact with toxic water, it should be washed with clean water. The animal should not be permitted to lick the algae of its fur. If the animal shows signs of poisoning, like loss of energy, loss of appetite, or vomiting, contact a veterinarian quickly.
All people are advised to avoid contact with any water surface in Rhode Island that looks bright green or has a dense algae mat on the surface. Blue – green algae sometimes look like thick pea soup or paint.
It’s very important not to enter the water. This is for your own safety, as blue-green algae levels in the pond are dangerously high. Another good idea, if you do come into contact with toxic water is to wash your hands well before drinking, eating or smoking.
If you’d like to report blue-green algae blooms, you should contact Brian Zalewsky in DEM’s Office of Water Resources, at (401)222-4700.
Image Source – Flickr