Officials warn of blue-green algae in Illinois lakes, rivers

Courtesy: MGN
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WIFR) -- You may want to think twice before jumping into some Illinois lakes or rivers this summer.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Public Health remind people to be cautious of planning activities on Illinois lakes and rivers, which have the potential for blue-green algae as temperatures rise.

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that naturally occur in lakes and streams.

IEPA says most blue-green algae are harmless, but some can produce toxic chemicals leading to sickness or other health effects, depending on the amount and type of exposure.

People who plan to jump into Illinois lakes or rivers this summer are advised to avoid contact with water under certain conditions:

• It looks like spilled, green or blue-green paint;
• It has surface scums, mats, or films;
• It is discolored or has green-colored streaks; or
• It has greenish globs suspended in the water below the surface.

Some symptoms of exposure to algal toxins include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, or wheezing.

If you happen to get into water with blue-green algae, IEPA says you should rinse off with clean, fresh water as soon as possible.