Tests find poison in Lake Champlain
By Wilson Ring
Associated Press Writer
Published August 19th, 2004
MONTPELIER, Vt. -- The Vermont Health Department is urging
people and their pets to stay out of sections of northeastern
Lake Champlain where there have been buildups of a toxic
A neurotoxin was found in algae samples taken earlier
this week, said Mary Watzin, the head of the Rubenstein
Ecosystem Science Laboratory at the University of Vermont,
where the tests were conducted.
"Where there are dense accumulations of algae there
are toxins present at levels of concern," Watzin
said. "It's moderately elevated. It's best if people
avoid the dense accumulations."
The toxin microcystin was found in samples taken from
blue-green algae that have been spreading throughout sections
of the lake this summer.
Earlier this summer the Vermont Health Department issued
an advisory urging people and pets to stay out of areas
Missisquoi Bay that were covered with blue-green algae.
The Health Department's alert includes the following
_ Missisquoi Bay.
_ The Highgate shoreline and shipyard area.
_ North Hero State Park.
_ Off the Vermont Route 78 bridge.
_ Some areas of the shoreline along the inland sea in
the Swanton, Alburg, and St. Albans areas.
_ Alburg Springs.
_ Chapman's Bay.
Shelburne Pond in the town of Shelburne also contains
blue-green algae blooms, the Health Department said.
The Health Department said that common purification methods,
such as boiling, ultraviolet light and chlorination, will
not destroy the toxins formed in the blooms.
Watzin said microcystin can be fatal in large enough
doses. Smaller amounts can cause stomach upset and skin
Dogs have died after eating the algae or drinking water
in an area where a toxic algae bloom is taking place.
They may also ingest the algae by licking their fur after
they have been in water that is thick with algae.
Blue-green algae blooms were first observed on the Quebec
side of Missisquoi Bay this summer. Since July the blooms
have extended farther south, and strong winds over the
weekend broke up and dispersed the blooms even further.
Public recreation areas along the affected northern shore
have been posted with health alerts by town health officers.
Copyright © 2004, The Associated Press