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Blue-green algae in East Lancashire's canals and rivers may be toxic
CANAL and river experts are appealing to visitors to their sites to avoid contact with the water due to a potential bloom of blue-green algae.
The Canal and River Trust, which owns the Leeds Liverpool Canal, said that while the outbreak of blue-green algae in summer is a natural occurrence, it can be harmful to the skin.
Direct contact with the algae, which may produce toxic scum, can cause allergic reactions including itchy eyes, skin irritation and hay fever like symptoms.
Blue-green algae occurs naturally in many inland freshwaters and the numbers of blue-green algae can become excessive, resulting in a ‘bloom’ which colours the water green, blue-green or greenish brown.
Cath Ferguson, environment manager at the Canal and River Trust, said: “Canals and reservoirs are great places for people to walk or cycle. We want people to continue to enjoy the lovely waterside setting but to be aware that there’s a current outbreak of blue-green algae in the water.
“We’re asking people to be extra careful and if they or their pets come into contact with the affected water, they should wash all exposed skin with clean water as soon as possible, and particularly before eating or drinking.
“If they are in any doubt about their welfare after contact with algae, they should seek medical advice.”
Warning signs have been placed around Clowbridge Reservoir, at Dunnockshaw, near Burnley, which is owned by United Utilities.
A spokesman for United Utilities said: “We want people to enjoy the land around our reservoirs, but not to go into the water. It may seem inviting, particularly on hot days, but cooling off in reservoirs can be deadly.
“Along with their icy water, steep sides, hidden currents and sudden drops; algae can increase significantly during warm weather add to the risk.
“We would also urge people not to let their dogs go into the water or drink the scum that can be produced by algae.”
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