EPA: Warm Weather Brings Algae Blooms To Rivers, Lakes

Andy Dahn
May 29, 2018 - 12:37 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- As the weather gets warmer, some lakes and rivers may get greener.

Officials with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Public Health say algae is to blame.

"It's called blue-green algae because it can have a blue-green tint to it," said Kim Biggs, Spokesperson for the Illinois EPA. "We describe it sometimes as looking like spilled paint. It's something that will certainly catch the eye of individuals that see it."

It may look funny, but Biggs said the organisms release toxic chemicals into lakes and rivers.

"If there's direct skin contact or if you happen to swallow any of the contaminated water, you could potentially make contact with it," Biggs said. "That can happen even through water droplets that become airborne."

That could lead to rashes, vomiting or wheezing, and Biggs said the most at risk are children, the elderly and pets.

"If dogs happen to be playing in the water, as often times happens this time of year, that can affect them as well."

So far, the algae has been found in several Northern Illinois lakes, but Biggs said toxin levels have been relatively low.