The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) are advising people to avoid contact with Melville Pond in Portsmouth because of a blue-green algae (or cyanobacteria) bloom in the pond. Blue-green algae can produce toxins that can harm humans and animals.
People should not ingest water or eat fish from the pond. Because pets can be affected by exposure to algal toxins, owners should not allow pets to drink this water or swim in the water. This advisory will remain in effect until further notice. Because Melville Pond is not used for drinking water, Aquidneck Island’s public drinking-water supply is not at risk.
Irritation of the skin, nose, eyes, and/or throat are common side effects that result from contact with water containing algal toxins. If water containing algal toxins is ingested, health effects can include stomach ache, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Young children and pets are at greater risk than adults, since they are more likely to drink contaminated water. Other health effects, which are rarer, include dizziness, headache, fever, liver damage, and nervous system damage. People who have been swimming in, or have otherwise been in contact with, Melville Pond and experience those symptoms should contact their healthcare providers.
Anyone who comes into contact with this water should rinse their skin with clean water as soon as possible, bathe, and wash their clothes. If a pet comes in contact with this water, the pet should be washed with clean water. Do not let the animal lick algae off of its fur. Call a veterinarian if the pet shows any symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning, which include loss of energy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, or any unexplained sickness that occurs within a few days of contact with the water.
Toxins may persist in the water after the blue-green algae bloom is no longer visible.
The public should avoid contact with any body of water in Rhode Island that is bright green or has a dense, floating algal mat on the water’s surface. Blue-green algae blooms may look like green paint or thick pea soup.
To report suspected blue-green algae blooms, contact Brian Zalewsky in RIDEM’s Office of Water Resources (222-4700 ext. 7145; firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jane Sawyer (222-4700 ext. 2032 ; email@example.com). If possible, send a photograph of the bloom.
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