PITTSFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There has been an algae test completed at Pontoosuc Lake in Pittsfield today that confirms the presence of a blue-green algae bloom. This may present harmful health effects for users of the lake.

As recommended by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, a public health advisory is being issued. There have been warning signs posted around the lake that says:

  • Do not swim.
  • Do not swallow water.
  • Keep animals away.
  • Rinse off after contact with water

Blue-green algae, also known as Cyanobacteria, occur naturally in lakes and ponds throughout Massachusetts. On any other day, Cyanobacteria cause no apparent harm. However, warmer water temperatures and high nutrient concentrations may induce a fast increase in their abundance. This response is commonly called a “bloom.”

Harmful health effects from the bloom can result through skin contact with the algae-infused water, swallowing the water, and when airborne droplets are also inhaled. Pets are especially prone to health effects. For protection, residents and visitors are advised to avoid contacting water that has a noxious odor, appears green throughout, or has mats, films, or scums accumulating on the surface.

Until further notice avoids these high-risk activities:

  • Any contact with the water including swimming, diving, playing, or wading
  • Drinking, or allowing animals to drink the water
  • Water sports, e.g. water skiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, jet skiing, tubing

Other activities that pose a moderate risk to health include:

  • Fish consumption
  • Canoeing
  • Rowing
  • Sailing
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Motorboating

The health outcomes of concern are:

  • Irritations of the skin, eyes, or ears
  • GI problems like vomiting and diarrhea
  • Muscle cramps
  • In extreme cases nerve or liver problems