During routine water quality monitoring of the Mystic River in Medford and Somerville on November 13th, 2008, Mystic River Watershed Association staff and volunteers observed widespread cyanobacteria blooms ranging from Medford Center to the Blessing of the Bay boathouse. Certain types of cyanobacteria can be toxic and may pose a potential health risk to humans that come in contact with the water. The cyanobacteria can also be harmful to dogs that ingest the water.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, "Health concerns vary depending on the type of exposure (contact or ingestion) and the concentrations of microcystis and its toxin, microcystin. Contact with high levels of the cyanobacteria algae has been found to contribute to eye, ear, and skin irritation. More serious health effects (e.g. muscle cramps, twitching) can also occur. If elevated levels of the algal toxin, microcystin, are also present in the water, serious liver damage can result."
The Mystic River Watershed Association recommends that people and their pets avoid contact with water that is covered in a blue-green film of algae.
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