Breaking News: Health Advisory for Contra Costa County
Last updated: November 16, 2018, 9:52 am
Poor air quality in Contra Costa is expected to continue through the weekend due to the Camp Fire in Butte County.
Stay indoors when possible and keep doors and windows closed.
Avoid prolonged outdoor activity. Masks are not a substitute for staying indoors.
Seek medical attention if you experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, persistent coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, heart palpitations, nausea, fatigue or light-headedness.
Visit baaqmd.gov for air quality information. Visit airnow.gov for current air quality conditions in your zip code.
Visit cchealth.org/wildfire for smoke-related health information.
Harmful Algal Blooms
A harmful algal bloom (HAB) is a buildup of blue-green algae that creates a green, blue-green, white or brown coloring on the surface of ponds, lakes and other slow-moving waterways, sometimes occurring as mats or scum.
Blooms are most common between June and September. They grow in warm, stagnant and nutrient-rich water, and are becoming increasingly common both in California and nationwide.
Human exposure to water containing toxic harmful algal blooms, for example by direct body contact or ingestion, can result in a number of symptoms including the following:
Eye, nose, mouth or throat irritation
Gastrointestinal upset, such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
Contra Costa Environmental Health collected water samples from twelve locations in Discovery Bay on June 27, 2018. All the samples were positive for microcystin, a natural toxin produced by algal blooms that is harmful to humans and pets.
The sample from the Discovery Bay Yacht Harbor exceeded the Danger level for microcystin. Eight of the eleven other samples exceeded the Caution level.
Because of the high concentration of microcystin, Environmental Health recommends that humans and animals avoid all contact with water around Discovery Bay during the warm seasons.
Environmental Health will do another round of sampling when colder weather arrives.
Pittsburg Yacht Harbor
In response to a complaint, Environmental Health sampled the water at the Pittsburg Yacht Harbor on July 24, 2018. The results for that area showed microcystins well above the Danger level. The lab results and recommended signage were provided to the City of Pittsburg.
Is it safe for me to go in the water?
It depends where you are and if there are advisories posted in the area.
Stay out of the water until further notice. Do not touch scum in the water or on shore
Do not let pets or livestock drink or go into the water, or go near the scum on shore
Do not eat fish or shellfish from the water
Do not use the water for drinking or cooking. Boiling or filtering will not make the water safe
Exposure to HAB can cause rashes, skin and eye irritation, allergic reactions, gastrointestinal upset and other effects. At high concentrations, exposure can result in serious illness or death. For more information, see California Water Quality Monitoring Council HAB Portal.
What about my pets?
Keep pets out of water with harmful algal blooms. Dogs are especially vulnerable to getting sick and there have been reports of dogs dying following exposure associated with drinking the water or licking algae from their fur after wading or swimming in water with blooms.
Who should I contact if I swam in the water and now have symptoms?
If you think you or someone else is displaying symptoms of HAB poisoning, contact your healthcare provider or the California Poison Center Help Hotline at 1-800-222-1222.
What can I do to get rid of harmful algae?
We do not recommend attempting to treat or remove the algae. Harmful algae blooms are part of the environment's food chain and eventually dissipate on their own. Chemical treatment is often ineffective and can result in more toxins being released into the water when the algae cells die, and can have unintended effects on other species.
Algal blooms result from changes in water conditions that encourage sudden growth of the species. The best way to reduce and prevent blooms is to reduce water pollution, particularly from runoff containing fertilizers or pesticides. Pick up trash dumped in waterways, and make sure all household sewer systems are working properly. Minimize the use of fertilizers whenever possible.
Do I neeed to wash my boat after it has been in HAB infested waters?
Keep pets out of water with harmful algae blooms. Dogs are especially vulnerable to getting sick and there have been reports of dogs dying following exposure associated with drinking the water or licking algae from their fur.
Do not swim and avoid jet-skiing, wind surfing or water skiing in water with scum layers or blooms
Do not allow children or pets to swim in water with scum layers or blooms
Do not drink or use water containing algae. Boiling will not remove algal toxins
Do not eat fish or shellfish caught or harvested in a bloom area
Respect any water-body closures by public health authorities
What to Do When Exposed?
If you come into contact with a bloom, wash your skin and hair thoroughly. If wearing a swimsuit, pay careful attention to skin under the swimsuit
If your pet comes into contact with a bloom, wash it thoroughly with clean water to prevent algae ingestion while your pet cleans itself. If you believe your pet may have ingested dry or liquid algae contact a licensed veterinarian right away
If you ingest algae or suspect that you may have and begin to experience symptoms, contact your healthcare provider or California Poison Control 1-800-222-1222