Public Advised to Avoid Coming into Contact with Water in Several Lakes in Salem County Due to Harmful Algal Bloom

The Salem County Department of Health and Human Services is advising the public to avoid coming into contact with water in several lakes in Salem County that are connected to the Salem River due to water monitoring sampling conducted by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection confirming the presence of a Harmful Algal Bloom or (HAB).

The Salem County Department of Health and Human Services urges the public to avoid swimming, water sports and activities including: fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and recreational boating. Fish that are caught in these waters should not be eaten. The public is also advised that pets and livestock should not be allowed to drink or come into contact with these waters.

The waters of concern include Memorial Lake (Woodstown), East Lake (Pilesgrove), Avis Mill Pond (Pilesgrove), Daretown Lake (Daretown), Slabtown Lake(Pilesgrove), and Elmer Lake (Elmer) and all parts of the Salem River between Daretown and Memorial Lakes.

Exposure to cyanobacteria, which causes Harmful Algal Blooms, can result in a range of health effects, including rashes, allergy-like reactions, flu-like symptoms, gastroenteritis, respiratory irritation and eye irritation. Symptoms can occur in sensitive individuals even at levels below the New Jersey Health Advisory Guidance.

Exposure to a Harmful Algal Bloom that is actively producing cyanotoxins may result in more serious health effects, including liver toxicity and neurological effects. The New Jersey Health Advisory Guidance recommends the public avoid swimming in or coming in contact with water when cell counts are greater than 20,000 cells per milliliter or microcystin levels are above 3 micrograms per liter. DEP monitoring indicates both cell counts and microcystin levels are above the guidelines.

The Salem County Department of Health and Human Services will continue to monitor water quality through visual surveillance. Once the bloom is no longer visible the water will be tested by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. It is difficult to predict how long a Harmful Algal Bloom will last. Once the HAB has reached safe levels the advisory will be lifted and public notices removed.

For information on Harmful Algal Blooms and DEP testing and aerial surveillance data, visit www.state.nj.us/dep/hab/.

Please report a suspected HAB by calling the NJDEP Hotline at 1-877-WARNDEP (877-927-6337)

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