September 18, 2009

Algae bloom sickens Wisconsin residents

Blue-green algae has been a health hazard this summer for residents living near Menomin and Tainter lakes in Wisconsin, authorities said.

Smelly algae blooms on the lakes have been linked to the death of one dog and residents have complained of skin rashes, watery eyes and sore throats, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported Friday.

It's awful, said Carol Hake, who has had a home on Lake Menomin since 1963. We have to keep our windows closed. We can't even go to out in our back yard.

Breathing dried algae particles in the air leads to respiratory problems and drinking water contaminated with blue-green algae can lead to liver damage, state Department of Health spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said.

The algae blooms when phosphorus from fertilizers enters the regional watershed, then drains into the lakes, said Ken Schreiber, water quality specialist for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

I feel like I have moss on my tonsils, Tainter Lake resident Linda Lawrence said.