Dog-killing algae found in Prospect Park
Dog owners might want to avoid Prospect Park for a while.
The water at Prospect Park Lake tested positive for “high toxins” earlier this month, the Department of Environmental Conservation confirmed to the Brooklyn Eagle Monday morning.
The same “harmful algal blooms” have killed small clusters of dogs across the country for the past three summers, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, and has closed a mass of waterways across New Jersey as recently as this month.
Placards recently placed around ponds at Prospect, Central and Morningside Parks urge visitors not to drink the water, not to fish near the scum, and to keep children and animals away.
“Algae is a natural occurrence that blooms heavily in warm weather and sunlight. The chemistry of the water is high in phosphorous which encourages algae growth. It dissipates on its own when the chemistry balances,” Megan Moriarty, press officer for the city’s Parks Department told the Eagle. “When enjoying fresh water features in city parks, it is important to try to avoid contact with any algae and keep pets on leashes and do not allow them to enter or drink from lakes and ponds unless in areas specifically designated for such activities.”
According to the DEC, while algae occurs naturally in all bodies of water, harmful blooms are often born in calm, slow-moving water where there is sunlight, warm weather and a mix of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. (Pollution from people can make the problem worse, the EPA says.)
DEC told the Eagle that harmful algal blooms may be short-lived (appearing and disappearing in a matter of hours) or long-lived (persisting for several weeks or more), depending on the climate and the characteristics of the lake. They also vary in appearance, from scattered green dots in water to long, linear green streaks. They may even resemble “pea soup or spilled green paint,” or have a white coloration, as opposed to the typical blue-green.
The blooms can cause health effects when ingested, touched and, sometimes, even when airborne droplets are inhaled.
Symptoms of toxic algae exposure in dogs include diarrhea or vomiting, weakness or staggering, drooling, difficulty breathing and convulsions, according to the EPA.
If you think your dog has gotten into a harmful algae bloom, rinse them off immediately (wear gloves while you do so), and get them to a vet if they experience any of the above symptoms.
The public is encouraged to contact the Health Department with any reports of health effects (human or animal), and to clock any potentially harmful algae via this DEC form.
Neither the DEC not the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene have received any reports of any humans or animals sickened by algal blooms in New York City.
Correction (1:54 p.m.): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Parks Department was urging New Yorkers to avoid the parks. The Parks Department is not urging New Yorkers to avoid the parks. The agency is urging New Yorkers to stay out of the water.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment