Harmful algae bloom reported by ShoreRivers in the Sassafras
CHESTERTOWN — A harmful algal bloom in the Sassafras River poses a health risk to people and pets, according to a news release issued Tuesday by ShoreRivers.
In conjunction with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Emmett Duke, the Sassafras riverkeeper at ShoreRivers, first identified the bloom Sept. 17 in the large tidal pond between Turners Creek and Lloyd Creek on the Kent County side of the river.
The blue-green algae, Oscillatoria lemnosa, is producing a toxin called microcystin, which can cause a skin rash and, if ingested, can cause liver damage, the release states.
According to ShoreRivers, the toxin is especially dan- gerous to young children and small animals because of the higher possibility of ingestion. The Environmental Protection Agency set limits for exposure at 4 parts per billion, while the Maryland Department of Environment puts it at 10 parts per billion.
The most recent algae sample from the pond, taken Sept. 17, reportedly contained 69 part per billion of the toxin.
“For this reason, ShoreRivers recommends avoiding contact with water in the tidal pond until the level of the toxin has fallen below the guideline level,” the release states.
A warning sign from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has been posted at the tidal pond. The release states that testing will be conducted at least weekly and the sign will remain in place until the testing shows no more danger.
“Oscillatoria lemnosa is a naturally-occurring algae that lies in the river sediment. A combination of high levels of nutrient pollution and unusually high water temperatures contribute to this and other harmful algal blooms. It’s hard work and everyone needs to do their part, but we can prevent these harmful blooms by reducing nutrient pollution,” Duke said in a statement.
ShoreRivers is actively implementing restoration projects and advocating for strong clean water policies that will reduce nutrient pollution and help prevent similar harmful algal blooms, the release states.
Anyone noticing what may appear to be a significant algal bloom on local waterways can report it to ShoreRivers at 443-3850511. ShoreRivers is a nonprofit organization aiming to protect and restore local waterways.
Sassafras Riverkeeper Emmett Duke posts a sign warning of harmful algae at the tidal pond between Turners Creek and Llyod Creek.