Toxic algal blooms on Illinois waterways have EPA concerned

Illinois State Police pilots took Illinois EPA inspectors on flights to evaluate the recent algal blooms on the Illinois River and Rend Lake. Courtesy of the Illinois EPA

SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (Illinois News Network) — An organism floating in Illinois’ waterways could mean danger for those looking to beat the heat this week.

The weather conditions have been perfect in the state to create algal blooms in Illinois’ waterways. Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is warning that they look like blue-green oil slicks or spilled paint on the water. The blooms give off a toxin that can be absorbed through the skin, ingested or taken in from mist in the air.

“Individuals with compromised immune systems, the elderly, young children are the ones that are most at risk,” agency spokeswoman Kim Biggs said.

The blooms have been found in two parts of the Illinois river near Hennepin and Marseilles, but Biggs said they could be anywhere in the state’s waterways.

“It could be developing anywhere along the river and actually any waterways in Illinois,” she said.

If you or your pet have come into contact with what you think may be blue-green algae, rinse off with fresh water. If symptoms arise, call the Illinois Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. If your pet experiences symptoms that may be a result of exposure, contact your veterinarian.