With the summer recreation season underway, Ohio is simplifying the health advisories related to Harmful Algal Blooms and setting more protective threshold levels that trigger the posting of public health advisories at recreational waterbodies.
Recreational waters, including beaches and boat launches will now have one advisory tier.
When potential harmful algal blooms are visually identified, initial blue caution signs will be posted. A red-colored “Recreational Public Health Advisory” sign will be posted at state beaches when the level of algal toxins exceeds the health-based threshold. A corresponding neon green advisory sign will be posted at boat ramps.
This change for the recreational advisories is accompanied by lowering the health-based thresholds for the cyanotoxins identified in Ohio’s HABs recreational strategy. Lower levels of these toxins will result in action, further protecting Ohioans from HABs. The thresholds were updated based, in part, on new U.S. EPA criteria and data.
Side effects of contact with or swallowing toxin-contaminated water vary but may include skin rash, nausea, gastrointestinal distress, disorientation, numbness, fatigue, and death in extreme cases. These symptoms can occur more quickly and severely in children, elderly, the immune compromised and animals – including dogs.
For the first time, the state recreational strategy includes guidelines for managers of local, non-state owned waterbodies and beaches if HABs occur. This will allow local water managers to apply the techniques and guidance used for state-managed waterbodies if HABs occur at non-state managed properties.
Information about beach advisories is available at Ohio’s BeachGuard website. Data and other information about Harmful Algal Blooms in Ohio is available at www.ohioalgaeinfo.com.