Exposure to Blue-green Algae Adds to Times Water and Air Alerts in Florida

Thousands of people are spending the morning in southwest Florida using the Great Sand Dunes, and many are complaining about what they’re seeing.

A massive blue-green algae bloom in the Great Sand Dunes is causing water concerns even in normal summer days. Environmentalists have been concerned about the algae for months.

Shawn McCarthy told the news outlet, “I’ve been here every day since Saturday, and so far it’s been pretty bad.

“People are coming and going, and getting upset because of the smell coming off the lakes.”

Lisa Watkins was one of many. She told The Times she’s putting outside a bucket of water to drink because she’s allergic to it.

Last month, the US Department of Agriculture began issuing advisories for the Great Sand Dunes after several blue-green algae blooms.

“I saw 12 pink algae blooms,” NOAA regional weather specialist Crystal Corraler said at the time. “I couldn’t believe it.”

In April, it was reported that several individual lakes within the region were blooming with blue-green algae. The following month, a 20-mile stretch of the region between State Road 500 and Snow Road in Orlando was declared a “brownfield” after creating visible blue-green algae.

Although Lake Okeechobee is currently considered closed, officials remain concerned about an outbreak of blue-green algae washing into the nearby lake.

The algae are causing an ongoing health scare. Since April, Florida is reported to have already reported 109 confirmed deaths because of the blue-green algae threat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the algae can be “dangerous to humans when inhaled and treated through hand, mouth, and nose.”

While the algae has been contained to the Great Sand Dunes, doctors warn visitors to not handle the algae.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee were located in a state park. That was incorrect. The News Service of Florida regrets the error.

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