What are these HABs that everyone cares about? 

An algal bloom is a proliferation of cyanobacteria and algal cells in dense concentrations. Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic bacteria found on the surface of water bodies. These cyanobacteria can contain toxins that produce detrimental effects for humans and other animals, including Microcystins, a liver toxin, Anatoxins, a nerve toxin that is potentially fatal to dogs and Lipopolysacharides, an endotoxin that results in skin irritation.

According to NYS DEC’s Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) web page:

“Most algae are harmless and are an important part of the food web. Certain types of algae can grow quickly and form blooms, which can cover all or portions of a lake. Even large blooms are not necessarily harmful. However some species of algae can produce toxins that can be harmful to people and animals. Blooms of algal species that can produce toxins are referred to as harmful algal blooms (HABs). HABs usually occur in nutrient-rich waters, particularly during hot, calm weather.”

You can expose yourself to HABs through consumption through drinking water or incidental swallowing while recreating in a HABs infected body of water, inhalation of sprays and/or aerosols created during household use or recreation and dermal exposure, skin contact during waterfront recreation activities like swimming and/or fishing. 

The symptoms of HABs exposure include: stomach or liver illness, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting; skin, eye or throat irritation, allergic reactions on the skin, respiratory problems and even negative neurological effects. 

Reducing exposure to HABs: Reducing you and your family exposure to HABs NYS DEC

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