Centralia Lake will be re-tested following toxic blue-green algae

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CENTRALIA, Ill. – The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will be retesting water samples at Centralia Lake on Wednesday. The lake has been closed since last week.

A dog died hours after swimming in the water. Visitors also reported seeing what’s known as blue-green algae.

The state responded by testing the water and determined there were dangerous levels of a toxin.

Sample results indicated microcystin concentration were 41,000 parts per billion (ppb), according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommended human health recreational threshold for microcystins is 8 ppb.

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reports conditions remain ideal for blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) blooms. Blue-green algae naturally occur in lakes and streams. While most are harmless, some can produce toxins. Officials say this tends to happen in the fall and during periods without rain.

IDPH advises anyone recreating on water to avoid contact with water that:

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

Exposure can result from direct skin contact, accidental ingestion of contaminated water, or accidental inhalation of water droplets in the air. Symptoms of exposure include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, or wheezing. More severe symptoms may result from longer or greater amounts of exposure.

Terry Harris lives near the lake and says it’s a popular spot for boaters, skiers anyone who enjoys fishing.

“Just about every week they have some kind of little bass tournament going on,” he said.

Harris is hoping for rain soon, so water levels reach levels deemed safe.

“Normally we would be swimming or boating or something and we can’t do that right now,” he said.

Jonathan Urshan lives nearby and said his family will avoid the water until it’s deemed safe.

“We don’t want to be exposed to anything bad that’s running in the water at the moment,” he said.

The IDPH wants anyone concerned they have symptoms that are a result of exposure to algal toxins to contact their health care provider or call the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. If a pet experiences symptoms that may be a result of exposure, contact your veterinarian.

For additional information about harmful algal blooms, please visit Illinois EPA’s Harmful Algal Bloom webpage.

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