Hudson Valley Warned Green Water Could be Dangerously Toxic
As we approach the summer months, authorities are warning residents about the dangers of green slime.
Anyone who's spent time outdoors in the Hudson Valley has run across a body of water that looked, well, icky. You've most likely seen ponds, lakes or streams with a bright green scum across the top. The thick, soupy water isn't just dirty or covered in pollen. It's actually alive.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is warning residents about Harmful Algal Blooms. It's still not completely known what triggers these mysterious explosions of algae, but the bright green water can be extremely dangerous to pets and animals. While not all algal blooms are necessarily harmful, some can spiral out of control quickly and cause serious health hazards.
Experts believe the blooms most likely occur when water contains excessive nutrients. Phosphorus and nitrogen are devoured by algae and allow it to grow out of control. Early laundry detergents were full of phosphates which were blamed for causing an explosion of algal blooms across the country. Today, detergent companies no longer widely use phosphates in an attempt to keep toxic algae under control. But there are many other factors that can cause them to pop up.
The DEC warns that pets, people and livestock should avoid all contact with discolored water with floating scum on top. You can identify an algal bloom by it's gree, blue-green, yellow, brown or red color. Obviously, it's also extremely dangerous to drink the water or use it to cook or prepare food. In addition to the toxins produced by algae, the water can also contain parasites, bacteria or other dangerous substances.
If you happen to come in contact with a body of water that is suspected to be contaminated with algae, watch for symptoms that include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions, or breathing difficulties.
The DEC has created an interactive map that tracks current algal blooms. You can view the current locations of outbreaks and report any that you may encounter online.