With a growing interest in recreational water-based activities and as we enter summer, more people are spending time enjoying our local rivers and lakes.
NIEA are encouraging the public to get involved in citizen science and help monitor blooms of blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) to help protect public health and continue to enjoy our local water environment.
Swimmers, boaters, dog owners, anglers and anyone else spending time this summer in, or around, fresh water can now record the presence of harmful algal blooms with an app called “Bloomin’ Algae”, developed by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH).
Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) is a type of algae that can occur naturally in lakes, ponds, canals, rivers and reservoirs. Unlike other types of algae, if it becomes too abundant it can pose a health risk to people, pets and wild animals who come into contact or ingest it. It can cause skin rashes, eye irritations, vomiting, diarrhoea, fever and muscle and joint pain. Blue-green algae has also been attributed to the death of dogs, birds, fish and livestock in parts of the UK.
Bloomin’ Algae App helps make reporting of blue-green algae easier and quicker, allowing environmental experts to respond faster and issue public warnings more efficiently.
Bloomin’ Algae App is free to download directly from Google Play or App Store. It enables users to submit a photo of an algae bloom on their mobile device, along with the location and activities taking place in the associated waters.
The submitted records are verified by trained environmental experts, enabling feedback to the app user to verify if it may be blue-green algae, or something less harmful, and appropriate next steps they should take. Records will be used to alert authorities to provide early warnings of risks to other water users.
NIEA fully support the use of the App and working with UKCEH in reporting blue-green algae blooms, and supporting local authorities to provide appropriate warnings to water users.
Notes to editors:
- Please see the UKCEH website for more details.
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