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Water Today Title October 30, 2020

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Advisory of the day



This story is brought to you in part by Biomass Recycle

If test results taken this Monday come back negative for E.coli bacteria in Mettawas Beach in Ontario, it'll be safe to go back into the water in a few days, said Phil Wong, environmental health manager for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

Warning signs went up June 11 following a positive reading from test results. Out of eight to nine lakes Mettawas Beach was the only one to test positive.

"E.coli can be caused by bird feces, manure runoff, anything like that. You can't get rid of it. It's naturally there," Wong explained. "After rainfall you get an increase in the lake when it's dis-turbed."

Some bacteria is in sediment at the bottom of the lake that moves when the water is agitated by high winds, for instance.

"It depends on a lot of factors," he said, advising people to wait 48 hours for conditions to re-turn to normal.

Although E.coli may sound like the only type of bacteria there are, in fact, a number of strains according to Medical News Today.com.

Most are harmless but they have the potential to cause serious health problems such as nausea, vomiting, and fever in addition to pneumonia, urinary tract infections and diarrhea. In some cases kidney failure can result.

Contaminated water is but one vehicle to become infected. Others include contaminated food and skin and animal contact. Those with weakened immune systems and decreased stomach acid should be particularly vigilant.

Blue-green algae blooms, like E.coli, is found in bodies of water such as lakes, rivers, and wetlands in all provinces. It is easily recognizable not only by its colour but also by its slimy appearance and various colours: dark green, pink, yellow, or brown. Depending on the species, cyanobacteria can produce toxins that can cause skin irritations. Various nutrients spur its growth, particularly phosphorus.

It appears in spring when temperatures rise and disappears in September or October. In small quantities, headaches, fever and abdominal pain can result. Contact with the skin, irritated eyes and skin can result if water is contaminated. In large quantities liver damage may result.

Believing that boiling algae-laden water or treating water with chlorine to rid it of algae has the opposite effect by opening cells and releasing more toxins.

Beach water samplers with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit look for signs of blue - green algae. That would be discolouration of water that is "greenish paint-like" in appearance, explained Mike Tudor, also an environmental health manager at the health unit. They are kept informed of algae indications in the Lake Erie basin and Lake St.Clair by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.


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