New tests at Lake Bill Chinook have confirmed that toxin levels for blue-green algae are back within safe levels on two of the lake's three arms.
On June 30, the Oregon Health Authority had issued a health advisory noting elevated levels of blue-green algae in the Deschutes, Crooked and Metolius arms of the lake. On Monday, the updated advisory recommended continued caution at Perry South Cove, on the Metolius arm. However, the blue-green algae toxins on the Deschutes and Crooked River arms have dropped to levels considered safe for humans.
Even though levels are below the guidelines, OHA advises caution when using the lake, and recommends avoiding areas "where the water is foamy, scummy, thick like paint, pea-green, blue-green or brownish red in color, if a thick mat of blue-green algae is visible in the water, or bright green cells are suspended in the water column."Pets are particularly sensitive to the toxins, which remain well above the low exposure levels established for dogs. Exposure may cause illness or even death in pets. The OHA recommends that pet owners monitor pets after exposure, looking for signs of illness, such as vomiting. If symptoms persist, get the pet checked out by a veterinarian.
In the presence of the blue-green algae, which may indicate elevated levels of microcystin, a toxic form of cyanobacteria, people should avoid activities such as swimming or high-speed water activities, that might cause them to inhale water droplets. Children are particularly susceptible.For more information, contact the Oregon Health Authority at 1-877-290-6767, or visit its website at www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/pages/index.aspx, and click on Environmental Health, then Recreation, and finally, Harmful Algae Blooms.