High Toxin Levels in Detroit Reservoir

A health advisory is being issued today for Detroit Lake

Photo Courtesy of USDA
Photo Courtesy of USDA
May 15, 2015, 6:48 pm

— A health advisory is being issued today for Detroit Lake, located 46 miles southeast of Salem on the North Santiam River in Linn and Marion counties.

Water monitoring has confirmed the presence of blue-green algae and the toxins they produce.

These toxin concentrations can be harmful to humans and animals.

Swallowing or inhaling water droplets, as well as skin contact with water, should be avoided.

Drinking water directly from Detroit Reservoir is especially dangerous.

Oregon public health officials advise campers and other recreational visitors that toxins cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating the water with camping-style filters.

People who draw in-home water directly from Detroit Lake are advised to use an alternative water source because private treatment systems are not proven effective at removing algae toxins. However, public drinking water systems can reduce algae toxins through proper filtration and disinfection. If people on public water systems have questions about treatment and testing, they should contact their water supplier.

Oregon health officials recommend that people who choose to eat fish from waters where algae blooms are present remove all fat, skin and organs before cooking, because toxins are more likely to collect in these tissues. Public health officials also advise that people not eat freshwater clams or mussels from Detroit Reservoir and that Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife regulations do not allow the harvest of these shellfish from freshwater sources. Crayfish muscle can be eaten, but internal organs and liquid fat should be discarded.

Exposure to toxins can produce symptoms of numbness, tingling and dizziness that can lead to difficulty breathing or heart problems and require immediate medical attention. Symptoms of skin irritation, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting should also receive medical attention if they persist or worsen. Children and pets are at increased risk for exposure because of their size and level of activity. People who bring their pets fishing with them should take special precautions to keep them from drinking from or swimming in the reservoir.
The public will be advised when the concern no longer exists.

With proper precautions to avoid water contact, people are encouraged to visit Detroit Reservoir and enjoy activities such as fishing, camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, and bird watching. Boating is safe as long as speeds do not create excessive water spray, which could lead to inhalation risk.

For local information, contact the U.S. Forest Service at 503-854-3366. For health information or to report an illness, contact the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) at 971-673-0400.

OHA maintains an updated list of all health advisories on its website. To find out if an advisory has been issued or lifted for a specific body of water, visit www.healthoregon.org/hab and select "algae bloom advisories," or call the Public Health Division toll-free information line at 1-877-290-6767.

Source; Oregon Health Authority

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