If you see scum near your private water intake, or if your tap water has an unusual colour or odour, do not use that water for: - washing yourself; This paper contains at least 30% post-consumer fibers. - brushing your teeth; - watering your vegetable garden (if this is unavoid able, water the base of plants rather than the stem or leaves). You may wash dishes or other objects, as long as you rinse them with uncontaminated water and dry them thoroughly. Water from a lake, river, or stream must never be in- gested if it has not been treated (boiled, disinfec- ted, etc.) Note that certain household water treatment systems, even if uncertified, can eliminate blue-green algae when properly installed and main- tained. If your tap water comes from a water system, you may consume and use it normally unless otherwise advised. If your water comes from a private well, it is unlikely to contain blue-green algae. However, a well near a body of water and subject to infiltration may be con- For more information taminated by blue-green algae if present in the body By telephone of water. In such a case, take the precautions listed Québec City region: 418-644-4545 above regarding the use of potable water. Montréal region: 514-644-4545 Elsewhere in Québec: 1-877-644-4545 (toll-free) DURATION OF ADVISORIES Blue-green algae contamination can last for several On the Internet weeks and occur more than once a year. Advisories www.gouv.qc.ca therefore vary greatly in duration. Version française diponible. When in doubt, it is important that you contact public authorities to be sure of your water quality. If a body of water is infested, the public will be informed without delay. 07-238-01A Blue-Green Algae and Health Blue-green algae, known to scientists as cyanobacteria, are microorganisms that grow in bodies of fresh or salt water. These ancient creatures play an essential role in the ecological balance of various aquatic habitats. However, sometimes these algae begin to multiply excessively, producing large quantities of toxins that can pose a health hazard. Touching or ingesting water contaminated by blue-green algae or their toxins can cause health problems. PROTECT YOUR HEALTH MAIN SYMPTOMS To avoid contact with blue-green algae toxins, one In cases of ingestion: must first know where they are. • stomach pains • vomiting When blue-green algae are growing quickly and • diarrhea abundantly, they form green or turquoise expanses • headaches called algal blooms. An algal bloom resembles a paint • fever spill or a “soup” of particles resembling broccoli buds, peas, or fine grass clippings. They sometimes leave a deposit of viscous green or turquoise scum on WHAT SHOULD I DO IF the shore. Some algal blooms are reddish, but this is BLUE-GREEN ALGAE ARE PRESENT? rare in Québec. When blue-green algae are confirmed by public au- thorities or if you believe that a body of water is WHAT ARE THE HAZARDS? contaminated, do not use that water for: Health effects are caused by ingesting water contam- IN CASES OF CONTACT: - drinking or making ice; inated by toxins, but also through direct contact with • skin irritation - washing, preparing, or cooking food (boiling does blue-green algae, such as while bathing or playing • eye irritation not eliminate the toxins); water sports. Children are at particular risk of severe • sore throat - bathing or participating in water sports where the disease if they ingest toxins in the water or scum. water is green or spotted with scum (wetsuits will WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I DEVELOP not protect your skin); SYMPTOMS? - filling your pool; If you or someone you know should develop these - washing pets or offering to pets as drinking water. symptoms after drinking or touching contaminated water, contact your region’s Info Santé service or a Fish and other aquatic species from an affected area physician immediately. may be eaten in moderation, but their internal or- gans must not be eaten.