8/8/14: Lake Erie Water Testing Shows No Signs of Microcystin

Modified: January 23, 2015 3:03pm

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12 sites tested in Erie County; Blue/Green Algae Toxin not detected

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Department of Health (“ECDOH”) has announced the results of Lake Erie water testing conducted this week to detect any presence of microcystin, a toxin released from some algae blooms that caused a disruption to the City of Toledo, Ohio’s water supply last weekend after abnormally high levels of the toxin were detected near the City’s Lake Erie water intakes. This week, in collaboration with ECDOH, the New York State Department of Health (“NYSDOH”) conducted tests on water samples collected from 12 sites in Erie County with results confirming that the microcystin toxin is not present in detectable levels in local waters.

“Erie County residents and all Western New Yorkers can rest easier knowing that microcystin is not a cause for concern locally, and that it is safe to drink our water, go to our beaches, and enjoy Lake Erie as we should,” said Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein. “While we must remain vigilant about the presence of algae blooms in the lake, these results show that the problems seen in Toledo last weekend are currently not a problem for Erie County.”

In Erie County, drinking water and beach water samples from a dozen locations in Buffalo, Evans, Hamburg, and Brant were tested.

The microcystin toxin released from algae blooms can cause liver damage. On the skin, it produces rashes, hives and blisters. When swallowed, it can cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, severe headaches and fever. Not all algae blooms are toxic, however, and it is not possible to discern if a bloom is toxic by looking at it.