Chances are you've been to a cottage or a lake in Canada at least once in your life. During your stay, it may have crossed your mind to go for a swim in the waters where we often see people and their dogs swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and more.
But when you reached the water, you probably noticed some creepy-looking algae along with a strong smell. Well, what you probably saw was blue-green algae, and some of it definitely isn't as harmless as you think.
In fact, research by the Florida Gulf Coast University has confirmed that not only can one become sick from swimming in or drinking the water, but also from airborne contamination.
TL;DR The Weather Network is warning Canadians of blue-green algae found in lakes across the country and its dangerous effects on health. Recently it was discovered that toxins from the algae can become airborne and travel up to two kilometres. It is advised that people and pets stay away from water when algae is in bloom.
According to The Weather Network, blue-green algae is cyanobacteria, which contains the two toxins microcystin and BAMA. Both toxins are seriously dangerous to both humans and pets.
It was recently revealed by the FGCU that the bacteria from the algae can actually become airborne and travel up to two kilometres! This means that anyone within that distance can inhale the bacteria, with potential health issues to follow.
There is no official warning on Canadian lakes just yet, as researchers still need to discover what amount of toxins actually begins to produce negative health effects for those that have come in contact with the algae.
Although the World Health Organization offers specific guidelines for when it isn't safe to enter water with the blue-green algae, there aren't any rules surrounding the airborne toxins and what to do if you're at risk of being contaminated.
Last summer, three dogs in New Brunswick were pronounced dead due to the bacteria found in lakes across Canada, The Weather Network says.
A professor of ecology at the University of Alberta says that most people don't notice the algae apart from its strong smell and blooming appearance. As of now, the main concern for health officials and researchers is chronic exposure to the bacteria, especially since it is not yet known what damaging effect the algae has on health in the long-term.
For now, it's advised that Canadians stay away from lake water during a bloom and to remember to keep pets out of the water as well. It is also warned that if the area smells bad and you feel unwell to leave the area immediately.
Stay tuned for more information on blue-green algae.