BELLINGHAM, WA – Recent water sampling at Silver Lake detected microcystins, a toxin produced by algae, at levels that may be harmful to people and pets. Toxin levels are above the maximum safe level established by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Residents are advised to avoid water contact at Silver Lake and not allow pets to swim in or drink from the lake.
Ingestion of lake water poses the primary human health concern. Limited contact from boating or fishing is not a significant risk to people, but waterskiing, swimming or riding personal watercraft poses a greater risk since water may be accidentally ingested.
Pet owners are advised not to let their pets swim in the lake. Pets often lick their fur after swimming and may ingest toxins while grooming.
Microcystin is a toxin that primarily affects the liver, and may cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, sore throat, blistering around the mouth, and pneumonia. This and other algal toxins are naturally occurring, although human and animal activity can impact the severity of freshwater algal blooms. Nutrients in fertilizer, pet waste, agricultural runoff and wildlife waste provide food for algal growth.
You can learn more about harmful algal blooms at www.nwtoxicalgae.org or at www.epa.gov.