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Posts Tagged ‘Portland’

Toxic Algae Warning Expanded for Oregon River

Posted by feww on September 20, 2014

ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARDS
CONTAMINATED WATER
SCENARIO 817, 555, 05
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Microcystis exposure can kill pets within an hour

A health warning issued for a stretch of the Willamette River flowing through downtown Portland has been expanded by the Oregon Health Authority after preliminary test results showed blue-green algae covering the water is a toxic species.

Public health officials recommend that people avoid all contact with Willamette River water in a 10-mile stretch of the river, from Ross Island downriver to the south end of Sauvie Island. This includes avoiding swallowing or inhaling water droplets, and avoiding skin contact. Drinking water directly from this stretch of the Willamette is especially dangerous. Pets should be kept away from the water as well.

Official results of at least two tests on water samples conducted by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are expected back later today. A preliminary test by one of the laboratories, Aquatic Scientific Resource, confirmed the blue-green algae, which is visible as a swirling, bright-green slick, is a species known as Microcystis aeruginosa (microcystis). This type of algae produces toxins that are harmful to humans and animals. The advisory threshold for microcystis is 40,000 cells of the toxin per milliliter of water. Preliminary counts indicate microcystis is present in the Willamette River at 2.25 million cells per milliliter. Several samples were collected around Ross Island, but the specific sample used for this count was from the mouth of the Ross Island lagoon.

Accidental swallowing of water containing these toxins may produce such symptoms as numbness, tingling, dizziness, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, cramps and fainting. Inhalation of water droplets can lead to breathing problems, sneezing, coughing or runny nose. Skin contact can cause skin irritation, including a rash. Symptoms usually occur in less than 24 hours.

Children and pets are at increased risk for exposure because of their size and level of activity. Dogs, in particular, can quickly experience symptoms of microcystis exposure and can die within an hour.

The toxins produced by microcystis cannot be removed by boiling, filtering or treating the water with camping-style filters, health officials warn. People who draw in-home water directly from Willamette are advised to use an alternative water source because private treatment systems are not proven effective at removing algae toxins.

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