algal bloom.jpg

An algal bloom. (IEPA photo).

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is asking people to be aware of, and avoid, blue-green algae this summer. The algae naturally occurs in streams and lakes and can sometimes produce toxic chemicals that can be harmful to people and pets.

IEPA Spokeswoman Kim Biggs says sensitive groups are more susceptible to getting sick from the algae. 

When lots of algae forms at once it's called a bloom. You will be able to see a green or blue sheen on the water after a bloom occurs. The IEPA says to stay away from it and to keep pets away too.

Possible symptoms include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing or wheezing. The most common exposure comes from skin contact, accidental ingestion of contaminated water, and inhaling water droplets from activities like water skiing.

Anyone experiencing symptoms after exposure to blue-green algae should see a doctor or call Illinois Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.

The IEPA says everyone should wash their hands before eating after playing in the water.