October 22, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Dawson, Water Quality Manager
Jefferson County Public Health
TOXIN WARNING AT LAKE LELAND
Port Townsend – High levels of the toxin microcystin were detected in a water sample taken from Lake Leland on Tuesday, October 16th. The toxin level is 13 micrograms per liter, which is above the Washington State recreational criteria of 6 micrograms per liter. The bloom of bluegreen algae (also known as cyanobacteria) in the lake contains several toxin-producing species of algae, including Aphanizomenon. Microcystin is a liver toxin that can result in illness and death in people and animals. Signs of microcystin poisoning include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and vomiting in humans and death in animals. It may be hours or days before signs of liver poisoning appear. Warning signs have been posted at the public boat ramp and fishing pier stating the following guidance:
- Do not swim.
- Do not drink lake water.
- Keep pets and livestock away.
- Clean fish well and discard guts.
- Avoid contact with algae scum.
Jefferson County Public Health (JCPH) has monitored local lakes for cyanobacteria since 2007. Lake Leland has experienced bluegreen algae blooms in the past, but it has been ten years since toxin levels have exceeded state criteria. The bloom on October 16th was patchy, which means it may not be visible in all parts of the lake, however toxins can be present even when the bloom is not visible. Microcystin is known to accumulate in fish livers, and to a lesser extent in muscle tissue. The Washington State Department of Health advises that adults consume no more than two 8-ounce fish fillet meals per week from lakes with microcystin.
To check the status of Jefferson County lakes and learn more about toxic cyanobacteria monitoring, consult the JCPH website, or call (360) 385-9444.
Always working for a safer and healthier community