Cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae)
Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are naturally found in many freshwater ecosystems. A combination of excess nutrients, sunlight, and high temperatures can lead to a rapid increase in cyanobacteria, called a “bloom.” Blooms of cyanobacteria generally occur in late summer into the early fall when water temperatures are warmest and an abundance of sunlight and nutrients are available. Some species of cyanobacteria can also produce toxins. These toxins are harmful to people and pets. There are no visual properties of a cyanobacteria bloom that indicate the algae are producing toxins. It is only possible to determine if toxins are present with laboratory tests. If a cyanobacteria bloom is observed, it is best to take caution and stay out of the water to avoid any potential exposure to toxins.
The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) work cooperatively to detect/respond to the presence of cyanobacteria blooms, evaluate the potential risks to the public, and, when necessary, issue health advisories notifying the public of health concerns. The agencies jointly issue health/recreational advisories when conditions indicate a cyanobacteria bloom poses a risk to public health.
Seasonal monitoring for cyanobacteria in 2019 is finished, but the public is reminded to avoid contact with any body of water that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water's surface.
- Cyanobacteria (Blue-green Algae) Factsheet
- Controlling Algae in Your Pond
- Five Reasons Why Feeding Waterfowl is Harmful
- Ten Things You Can Do To Help Clean RI Waters
- Eutrophic Ponds Approved TMDL
- Septic System Checkup Manual
- 2012 RI Lakes Report
- Cyanobacteria Monitoring Program