Recent samples taken at Loch a Bhaile, Shawbost Isle of Lewis have indicated the presence of blue-green algae. As a precautionary measure, notices have been posted next to the loch, warning that contact with the algal scum should be avoided.
Adjoining landowners, fishing interests and the local veterinary practice have been advised of the situation as have the Environmental Health section of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, SEPA Stornoway Office and NHS Western Isles.
Media Briefing Note:
- Blue-green algae exist in fresh waters in Great Britain and throughout the world; they are noticed when their concentrations increase to form “blooms” and when they form scums – looking like blue-green paint – or when they collect on the shore line.
- Some blue-green algae may give rise to adverse medical effects – but not always. Effects on people coming into contact with toxic scums include skin rashes, eye irritations, vomiting and diarrhoea, fever and pains in muscles and joints. Toxic algae have caused deaths of livestock and dogs. The treatment of water supplies removes blue-green algae and additional treatment may be applied to destroy or remove toxins should they arise. The actions currently taken are precautionary.
- The behaviour of algae is erratic.
- The level of its toxicity can fluctuate; it can appear one day, be dispersed by the wind and mixing and re-accumulate at any time.