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Watch Out When Swimming Area Lakes

Iowa environmental experts say being mindful of water quality can help avoid serious illness. The Iowa Environmental Council’s Alicia Vasto says E-coli outbreaks at state park beaches have been pretty consistent. But there’s been a gradual increase in swim advisories prompted by harmful algae blooms. They contain a toxin Vasto describes as “nasty” after coming in contact with it.

These algae blooms, which form in warm, stagnant waters, can resemble spilled green paint or pea soup, and emit a foul odor. The council says stay out of the water if warning signs are posted. Swimmers also are encouraged to shower after contact with surface water, even if there isn’t a warning. More than 20 such advisories were posted at Iowa’s state park beaches last year.

Toxic algae blooms have also been linked to fatal liver disease. The University of Iowa’s Peter Thorne says there are similar health concerns for pets.

 The C-D-C says in 2019, more than 200 animal deaths were reported when tracking cases around the country. The panel noted hot and dry summers, like the one Iowa saw last year, can fuel the growth of harmful algae. Farm runoff is considered a key source of these surface water toxins.


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