HCN News & Notes

Possible Cyanobacteria Algae Blooms in Rubber Thread Pond in Easthampton

EASTHAMPTON — The Easthampton Health Department has identified a possible cyanobacteria algae bloom in Rubber Thread Pond (located behind the 50 Payson Ave. parking lot).

Photographs were sent to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) Toxicology Program for confirmation. After review, the Toxicology Program confirmed the photos provided indicate the possible presence of cyanobacteria (algae) cells that may exceed the DPH guidelines for recreational water bodies in Massachusetts.

The DPH recommends posting public advisories at all access points of the ponds to notify residents that water should be avoided. The Toxicology Program will conduct follow-up sampling once the bloom is no longer evident. The DPH requires two samples below the guideline level, taken one week apart, to recommend rescinding the advisory.

The following should be avoided: contact with the water, swimming (including pets), fishing, and kayaking or boating.

Health concerns from harmful algae blooms vary depending on the type of exposure and the amounts. Contact with these algae can cause skin and eye irritation. Ingesting small amounts can cause gastrointestinal symptoms. Ingesting large amounts of toxins may cause liver or neurological damage. Inhaling water spray with algae in it can cause asthma-like symptoms.

Small children and pets are more susceptible to the effects of toxins than adults. Livestock and pet deaths from ingesting algal toxins have occurred. Dogs should be rinsed off immediately if they come into contact with an algae bloom.

If you believe you or your pet came into contact with these algae, you should immediately wash yourself or your pet with clean water and contact your primary-care physician or veterinarian.