Toxic algae possibly linked to warming world, says health unit

By Carl Clutchey
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Chronicle-Journal

A rise in the number of blue-green algae blooms in popular lakes close to Thunder Bay may be a symptom of climate change, the region’s public-health agency suggests.

“With rising climate and water temperatures (algae blooms) may become more common,” a Thunder Bay District Health Unit news release said on Monday.

“Blue-green algae blooms in lakes in our region have been relatively uncommon, historically,” the release noted.

So far this year, the health unit has released six bulletins about blue-green algae sightings, just two less than the amount recorded during the hot summer of 2021. In 2022, there were only three bulletins.

Blue-green algae, which appears on the water’s surface, can be toxic and harmful to humans and animals if ingested.

Public health officials advise that people should wait about two weeks after a bloom has dissipated before swimming or drinking in affected areas.

The latest bloom in the Thunder Bay region was confirmed on Thursday east of the city on West Loon Lake by the province’s Ministry of Environment.

West Loon Lake is a portion of Loon Lake, located about 55 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay in Shuniah Township. There are about 200 seasonal and year-round dwellings on the lake.

In recent years, popular cottage lakes a short drive from Thunder Bay, including Surprise Lake and Icarus Lake, have been flagged for algae blooms. Two bulletins for Surprise Lake have been issued so far this summer. Blooms have also been spotted near Thunder Bay on the shores of Lake Superior.

Phosphorous discharges from household appliances like dishwashers can also contribute to the creation of blue-green algae, provincial officials have noted.