Potomac algae blooms force swimming warning

September 02, 2006|By TOM PELTON

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is advising people to avoid swimming in sections of the Potomac River with blue-green algae blooms near the border of Prince George's and Charles counties.

Accidental ingestion of the algae Microcystis can lead to fever, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Blooms of the algae have been reported along the Potomac from Piscataway Creek to Smith Point, the agency said yesterday.

People are advised to wash their skin if they touch parts of the river colored by bright-green scum. Pets and livestock should be kept away from this section of the waterway, and people should not eat the internal organs of fish caught in the river.

Algae are a natural part of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. But pollution from sewage outfalls, storm-water drains and farm fertilizer can cause excessive growth of algae, which can kill marine life and make people sick, according to the department.

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